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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…

Mom of killer on death row for Collin County murder makes case to pope

Pope Francis talks with Lidia Guerrero, the Argentine mother of a man on death row in Texas
Pope Francis talks with Lidia Guerrero, the Argentine mother of a man on
death row in Texas.
VATICAN CITY -- Pope Francis has met for a second time with the Argentine mother of a man on death row for the 1995 slaying of a Plano man.

The Vatican announced the meeting Saturday between Francis and Lidia Guerrero but gave no details.

After their first meeting, in Rome in 2014, the mother said that the pope, who is also Argentine, assured her of his prayers for Victor Hugo Saldano, who was convicted in 1996 for abducting and fatally shooting Paul Ray King, 46.

Francis has vigorously promoted Vatican teaching saying capital punishment is morally unjustified.

Saldano entered the United States illegally in the early 1990s.

The day laborer from Argentina became the first person sentenced to death from that country since it won independence from Spain in 1809.

Saldano and an accomplice, Jorge Chavez, 27, abducted King from a Sack 'n Save supermarket Nov. 25, 1995, and killed him later at Lake Lavon.

Guerrero has said her son is guilty of murder but has been driven insane during his time on death row and has already paid for his crime.

Chavez, the accomplice, received a life sentence in the case. He will be eligible for parole in 2035.

Source: The Dallas Morning News, AP, June 12, 2016

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