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Why Texas’ ‘death penalty capital of the world’ stopped executing people

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Since the Supreme Court legalized capital punishment in 1976, Harris County, Texas, has executed 126 people. That's more executions than every individual state in the union, barring Texas itself.
Harris County's executions account for 23 percent of the 545 people Texas has executed. On the national level, the state alone is responsible for more than a third of the 1,465 people put to death in the United States since 1976.
In 2017, however, the county known as the "death penalty capital of the world" and the "buckle of the American death belt" executed and sentenced to death a remarkable number of people: zero.
This is the first time since 1985 that Harris County did not execute any of its death row inmates, and the third year in a row it did not sentence anyone to capital punishment either.
The remarkable statistic reflects a shift the nation is seeing as a whole.
“The practices that the Harris County District Attorney’s Office is following are also signifi…

Jury for Dylann Roof's federal trial will be chosen from pool of 748 people

Dylann Roof
Dylann Roof
Some 748 prospective jurors in the upcoming Dylann Roof federal death penalty trial have been picked to go on to a second, more intensive, phase of jury screening that will begin Nov. 7.

The 748 who survived the initial screening process this week were picked over a 2 1/2 day period that began Monday in a small federal courtroom in Charleston.

About 3,000 were initially summoned for this week's screening process. Federal Judge Richard Gergel had said he would like to come up with a pool of 700 potential jurors.

This week's screening went faster than expected. By around noon Wednesday, the court had surpassed that goal and wound up with 748 - a number that should be more than enough to produce a final jury panel of 12 jurors and 6 alternates.

Reasons some potential jurors were excused this week included child care or work-related duties.

The 748 who survived the initial screening this week have filled out extensive questionnaires about their lives and any reservations they might have about being deciding on a death penalty, should Roof eventually be found guilty and the trial move on to a sentencing phase.

Between now and Nov. 7, prosecutors and Roof's defense attorneys will study the completed questionnaires. From those, lawyers will develop additional questions and submit them to Gergel, who will then, beginning Nov. 7, question the prospective jurors 1 at a time as attorneys watch and possibly submit more questions.

Roof, 22, a white supremacist from Columbia, is charged with various federal hate crimes and obstruction of religion resulting in death in the June 2015 gun slayings of 9 African-Americans at a Charleston's historic "Mother" AME Emanuel Church.

Source: thestate.com, September 29, 2016

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