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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…

Connecticut: Man on death row set to be resentenced in Cheshire home invasion

Steven Hayes and Joshua Komisarjevsky
Steven Hayes and Joshua Komisarjevsky
NEW HAVEN -- One of two men sent to Connecticut’s death row for the slayings of a mother and her two daughters during a 2007 home invasion is set to be resentenced to life in prison without the possibility of release because the state abolished the death penalty.

Joshua Komisarjevsky is scheduled to be resentenced Tuesday in New Haven Superior Court.

He would be the third of the 11 death row inmates to be resentenced to life since the Connecticut Supreme Court ruled last year that their death sentences violated the state constitution’s prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment.

Komisarjevsky and Steven Hayes were convicted of murder in the killings of Jennifer Hawke-Petit and her daughters, 17-year-old Hayley and 11-year-old Michaela, in Cheshire.


Hayes and Komisarjevsky broke into the Petit house at about 3 a.m. July 23, 2007, and beat Dr. William Petit Jr. on the head with a baseball bat as he was lying on a couch in the sunroom downstairs. They tied him up in the basement. Then the perpetrators tied the girls and their mother to beds upstairs.

Later that morning, Hayes forced Jennifer Hawke-Petit to drive with him to her bank and withdraw $15,000. Shortly after they returned to the house, Hayes raped and strangled her and one of the two perpetrators applied a match to gasoline that had been spread throughout the home. The girls died upstairs in the fire.

Petit was able to escape from the basement and crawl out of the house to seek help from a neighbor minutes before the fire erupted. Hayes and Komisarjevsky crashed the Petit vehicle into a police barricade nearby as they fled and were apprehended.

Source: The Associated Press, July 24, 2016

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