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'Express lane to death': Texas seeks approval to speed up death penalty appeals, execute more quickly

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Texas is seeking to speed up executions with a renewed request to opt-in to a federal law that would shorten the legal process and limit appeals options for death-sentenced prisoners.
Defense attorneys worry it would lead to the execution of innocent people and - if it's applied retroactively, as Texas is requesting - it could potentially end ongoing appeals for a number of death row prisoners and make them eligible for execution dates.
"Opt-in would speed up the death penalty treadmill exponentially," said Kathryn Kase, an longtime defense attorney and former executive director of Texas Defender Services.
But a state attorney general spokeswoman framed the request to the Justice Department as a necessary way to avoid "stressful delays" and cut down on the "excessive costs" of lengthy federal court proceedings.
Robbie Kaplan, co-founder of the #TimesUp movement, says sweeping changes to laws in recent years have dissuaded attorneys from taking on har…

Indonesia: Jessica Kumala Wongso Charged With Premeditated Murder, Could Face Death

Jessica Kumala Wongso
Jessica Kumala Wongso
Police in Jakarta have charged Jessica Kumala Wongso, a suspect in the high-profile murder of her friend, Wayan Mirna Salihin, with premeditated murder, which means she could face the death penalty, an official said on Saturday.

The 27-year-old was named a suspect at 11 p.m. on Friday, and investigators subsequently arrested her at 7.30 a.m. the next day at Hotel Neo, Mangga Dua Square, Central Jakarta.

"She has been charged with Article 340 of the Criminal Code on premeditated murder," said Sr. Comr. Krishna Murti, general crimes director of the Jakarta Police.

The article carries a minimum jail sentence of 20 years and a maximum penalty of life in prison or death.

"[As this is a case] with a sentence [prospect] of more than 5 years, we could detain her," Krishna said. "We have 24 hours to question her before deciding [whether to extend] the detention."

Jessica was brought in to the Jakarta Police headquarters at 10. p.m. for questioning, but as of 4 p.m., investigators were still waiting for the arrival of her legal defense team.

"If her lawyers don't show up, the state will provide her with legal assistance," Krishna said.

Contacted separately, one of Jessica's lawyers, Andi Yoesoef, said that his team would accompany her, but he also called Saturday's arrest deplorable, claiming his team was not informed of it beforehand.

"It is the right of police, but at the very least, they should have provided prior notice," he said.

"Yudi will attend today's questioning," Andi said, referring to another lawyer for Jessica, Yudi Wibowo Sukinto.

Jessica has been at the center of police investigations into Mirna's case in recent weeks.

Mirna, also 27, suffered convulsions on Jan. 6 at Olivier cafe in Grand Indonesia shopping mall shortly after taking a sip of her Vietnamese iced coffee. She was then taken to a nearby hospital, where she died.

Lab tests confirmed there were traces of highly toxic cyanide inside her stomach, as well as in the drink she consumed.

Police said the drink was ordered by Jessica, who arrived at the cafe almost an hour earlier.

Investigators have questioned Jessica as a witness at least five times and searched her home, while at the request of police, the immigration office had also imposed a travel ban.

Source: Jakarta Globe, January 30, 2016

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