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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…

Singapore: Belgian accused of killing son could escape death penalty

Philippe Graffart
Philippe Graffart
A Belgian man accused of murdering his 5-year-old son in Singapore could be spared from hanging if he pleads guilty to an amended charge, state prosecutors said Wednesday.

Philippe Graffart, 42, was charged with the murder of his son Keryan at an upmarket condominium in October 2015 but has been found to be suffering from severe depression.

Murder is punishable by death through hanging in Singapore, but Graffart would instead face a maximum term of 10 years and caning should he plead guilty to an amended charge of culpable homicide under the Singapore penal code.

"The accused suffered from major depressive order which substantially impaired his mental state at the time of the offence," the Attorney-General's Chambers told AFP in reply to a query.

"The charging and sentencing position will be made clear when the matter is heard in open court."

Execution by hanging dates back to British colonial rule in Singapore and is applied to convicted murderers and drug traffickers. There is no other form of execution in the city-state.

Graffart's lawyer Ramesh Tiwary said his client was "still very depressed about what happened".

The Belgian, a former finance executive who has been in remand since his arrest in October hours after the killing, did not appear in a district court on Wednesday during a pre-trial session because he was unwell, Tiwary said.

He said the next pre-trial conference on the case is scheduled for March 29.According to Singapore media reports, Graffart's son was found strangled in his bedroom with hand-shaped bruises around his neck.

The father was believed to have been fighting for the boy's custody with his ex-wife at the time.

Graffart's account on business networking service LinkedIn before his arrest described him as an executive director and head of fund distribution in the Asia-Pacific region for Oslo-based Nordea Investment Management

Source: asiaone.com, March 23, 2016


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