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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…

Death penalty call for accused Australian child sex predator Peter Scully in Philippines

Peter Scully is facing child sex abuse and human trafficking charges.
Peter Scully (center) is facing child sex abuse and human trafficking charges.
Cagayan de Oro, Philippines: Prosecutors in the Philippines have revealed they will call for the death penalty to be re-introduced in the case of alleged Australian child sex predator and 'dark web' mastermind Peter Scully.

Chief prosecutor Jaime Umpa told Fairfax Media that the 52 year-old Scully's deeds were the most shocking cases of child abuse and trafficking officials had seen.

Prosecutors allege that Scully directed a video involving torture and horrific injuries to an 18-month-old baby and participated in many debased acts against children. Prosecutors said he was for several years the mastermind of a worldwide syndicate selling extreme videos of child sex and torture.

On Tuesday, Scully was led handcuffed into a court in the southern Philippines to face the first six of 75 charges that could see him become the first person to received the death penalty in the Philippines in more than a decade. During the hearing he laughed and joked with his co-accused.

While naked and masked, one of Scully's two Philippine girlfriends is alleged to have inflicted the pain on the baby girl in a video called "Daisy's Destruction" that Scully is alleged to have sold to internet clients for up to $10,000.

Prosecutors will allege another 11-year-old girl whose body was found in a shallow grave under a house rented by Scully was repeatedly sexually abused by him and then strangled.

Eight other girl victims aged up to 13 at the time of the alleged offences are being held in witness protection while Scully pleads not guilty in court hearings that are expected to take years to be completed in the Philippines' log-jammed judicial system.

Scully has decided to contest the charges - putting his alleged victims through the ordeal of testifying in court - despite repeatedly telling Philippine media last year he was "remorseful" for what he had done to children.

Wearing a yellow prison T-shirt and runners, Scully looked tense and ignored questions from Fairfax Media as he was led into a special court set up in Cagayan de Oro's city hall on Tuesday.

Prosecutors allege that Scully was the white male person, whose face was pixilated or hidden, captured in videos forcing children to commit depraved acts. Many of the investigators, journalists and officials who have watched the videos have been brought to tears.

On the eve of Tuesday's hearing Mr Umpa, the chief prosecutor of northern Mindanao region, called for the reintroduction of the death penalty in the Philippines so that Scully, a Melbourne businessman, could be executed.

"If I had my choice it would be death for Scully. I want it to happen," Mr Umpa told Fairfax Media in Cagayan de Oro, a city of one million people where Scully allegedly lured impoverished children from shopping malls.

Click here to read the full article

Source: Sydney Morning Herald, Lindsay Murdoch, September 20, 2016

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