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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…

Georgia: Execution date set for man convicted in 1998 triple murders

Daniel Lucas
Daniel Lucas
Authorities say an April 27 execution date has been scheduled for a man convicted in the 1998 triple murders of a trucking company owner and his 2 children in Georgia

A late April execution date has been set for man convicted in the 1998 triple murders of a central Georgia trucking company owner and his 2 children, authorities said Thursday.

Daniel Anthony Lucas is scheduled to be executed at 7 p.m. on April 27 at the state prison in Jackson, said a statement from Commissioner Homer Bryson of the Department of Corrections. Georgia executes inmates using an injection of the barbiturate pentobarbital.

Lucas, 37, received the death sentence in 1999 for the killings of Steven Moss, 37, his 11-year-old son Bryan and 15-year-old daughter Kristin, who interrupted a burglary at their home near Macon in central Georgia.

Another man convicted in the murders, Brandon Joseph Rhode, was put to death in September 2010. His execution was delayed by about a week after Rhode tried to kill himself by slashing his arms and throat just hours before he was initially set to be executed.

Lucas and Rhode were searching the Moss home for valuables in April 1998 when Bryan Moss saw them through a front window, and entered through a back door armed with a baseball bat, prosecutors have said. They say the two then wrestled Bryan to a chair and Lucas shot him in the shoulder.

Lucas then led the boy to a bedroom and shot him multiple times, prosecutors have said.

Rhodes met Kristin as she got home from school and forced her to sit on a chair and shot her twice with a pistol, according to court records. Rhode then ambushed Steven Moss when he arrived home, shooting him 4 times with the same pistol. Lucas later shot the 2 children again to make sure they were dead, according to the records.

Moss' wife, Gerri Ann, discovered the bodies when she returned home from work.

Several witnesses saw Rhode's vehicle as the pair fled the house and one of them identified Lucas as the passenger, prosecutors have said. Damage to the vehicle's front and rear bumpers matched damage to a propane tank and a cinder block at the Moss home.

Georgia has already executed 3 inmates this year and a 4th is scheduled to die Tuesday.

Source: Associated Press, April 8, 2016

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