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America Is Stuck With the Death Penalty for (At Least) a Generation

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With Justice Anthony Kennedy's retirement, the national fight to abolish capital punishment will have to go local.
When the Supreme Court revived capital punishment in 1976, just four years after de facto abolishing it, the justices effectively took ownership of the American death penalty and all its outcomes. They have spent the decades since then setting its legal and constitutional parameters, supervising its general implementation, sanctioning its use in specific cases, and brushing aside concerns about its many flaws.
That unusual role in the American legal system is about to change. With Justice Anthony Kennedy’s retirement from the court this summer, the Supreme Court will lose a heterodox jurist whose willingness to cross ideological divides made him the deciding factor in many legal battles. In cases involving the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment, his judgment often meant the difference between life and death for hundreds of death-row pr…

Oklahoma: Jurors choose death penalty for Oklahoma City man convicted of rapes, murder

Oklahoma death chamber
Oklahoma death chamber
Jurors on Wednesday chose the death penalty as punishment for an Oklahoma City man convicted of raping his girlfriend and her friend before fatally beating the friend.

The Oklahoma County jury deliberated less than an hour.

Last week, the jurors found Albert Ray Johnson, 49, guilty of 1 count of 1st-degree murder, 1 count of assault and battery with intent to kill, 2 counts of forcible oral sodomy, 2 counts of 1st-degree rape, 2 counts of forcible anal sodomy, 2 counts of kidnapping and 1 count of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon.

After convicting Johnson last week, the jury chose life in prison as punishment for each count except the count of murder. Jurors on Wednesday decided the punishment of death for the murder count after listening to closing arguments.

Prosecutors said Johnson forced his girlfriend to invite over a female friend so he could "rape and kill" her. Johnson was accused of threatening to kill his girlfriend and her 8-year-old daughter if she didn't comply with his request.

The former girlfriend testified during the trial and told the jury she was forced to call her friend, Rachel Rogers, 24, to her home in The Village. Prosecutors said the call to Rogers occurred about 1:30 a.m. June 13, 2014.

When Rogers arrived at the home shortly after the call, Johnson pulled her inside and put a knife to her throat, the girlfriend testified. The victim said Johnson then raped both of them at knifepoint.

After the rapes, Johnson tied up the women and beat them with metal objects, prosecutors said. Johnson fatally beat Rogers with a dumbbell, "crushing her face," prosecutors said.

Source: The Oklahoman, June 23, 2016

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