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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…

Family of Spaniard Pablo Ibar cautious ahead of new trial

Pablo Ibar
Pablo Ibar
Kin of Spaniard on death row in U.S. cautious ahead of new trial

Family and supporters of Pablo Ibar, a Spanish citizen sentenced to death in Florida for a 1994 triple-murder, said here Thursday that while they welcome a decision to grant him a new trial, they remain wary.

Ibar's father and cousin and the spokesman for the Pablo Ibar Association Against the Death Penalty, Andres Krakenberger, met Thursday morning with the president of the Basque regional parliament, Bakartxo Tejeria, and other lawmakers.

After the round of meetings, they told reporters they hope to convince the parliament to issue an institutional declaration in favor of Ibar.

Krakenberger said the different parties have been favorable to supporting this cause "of evident injustice."

In February, the Florida Supreme Court overturned the 2000 murder conviction of the 45-year-old Ibar, who has been imprisoned for almost 22 years, 15 of them on death row.

The 4-3 decision means Ibar will get a new trial on charges he took part in the 1994 murders of nightclub owner Casimir "Butch Casey" Sucharski, 48, and models Sharon Anderson and Marie Rogers, both 25.

The Supreme Court on Wednesday formally returned the case to a court in Broward County, just north of Miami, where the crime took place.

Krakenberger said Thursday that though the new trial should begin within 90 days, there is a series of variables that could influence the situation, including the fact that the prosecution may ask for a postponement.

Despite the fact that they're optimistic, Krakenberger urged people not to "lower your guard" or to "celebrate," because prosecutors continue to seek the death penalty for Ibar.

When asked about how the citizen and institutional campaign is going to collect the funds needed to pay for the cost of a new trial, Krakenberger said that they have a little over half the required money in hand and that the lawyers have begun working on the pretrial preparations.

Ibar's father Candido said that the family is encouraged and hopeful, adding that his son is doing well, although he's also a little "nervous" about the new phase that's beginning now.

Source: Fox news, May 2, 2016

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