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Texas Should Not Have Executed Robert Pruett

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Update: Robert Pruett was executed by lethal injection on Thursday.
Robert Pruett is scheduled to be executed by the State of Texas Thursday. He has never had a chance to live outside a prison as an adult. Taking his life is a senseless wrong that shows how badly the justice system fails juveniles.
Mr. Pruett was 15 years old when he last saw the outside world, after being arrested as an accomplice to a murder committed by his own father. Now 38, having been convicted of a murder while incarcerated, he will be put to death. At a time when the Supreme Court has begun to recognize excessive punishments for juveniles as unjust, Mr. Pruett’s case shows how young lives can be destroyed by a justice system that refuses to give second chances.
Mr. Pruett’s father, Sam Pruett, spent much of Mr. Pruett’s early childhood in prison. Mr. Pruett and his three siblings were raised in various trailer parks by his mother, who he has said used drugs heavily and often struggled to feed the children. Wh…

Judge allows Dylann Roof flip-flop on lawyers in guilt phase of death penalty trial

Dylann Roof
Dylann Roof
COLUMBIA, S.C. -- A federal judge has approved the request of the alleged Charleston church shooter to bring back his lawyers, one week after he asked to have them dismissed.

In a handwritten request filed on Sunday, 22-year-old Dylann Roof asked U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel to bring his defense team back on board for the guilt phase of his federal death penalty trial, which begins next week in Charleston.

Roof will be allowed to go back to representing himself for the penalty phase. Gergel agreed Monday, but warned Roof that he can’t change his mind again.

Prosecutors have asked for the death penalty. Such cases are split into two parts: the guilt phase, and then a separate portion that focuses on whether the defendant will be sentenced to death, or life in prison.

The request came a week after a federal judge allowed Roof to represent himself in the June 2015 slayings at Emanuel AME Church. CBS Charleston affiliate WCSC-TV had reported that Roof, facing 33 charges including hate crime and murder, told Judge Gergel that he had reviewed the order that declared him competent to stand trial, and that he felt ready to represent himself.

Gergel told Roof in court that he felt the decision to be “strategically unwise,” but he ultimately granted Roof permission to represent himself at trial.

Ever since then, his high-powered legal team has sought to play a larger role in his defense, saying late last week they feared Roof wouldn’t introduce evidence that could possibly spare his life.

Authorities have said Roof killed the parishioners in a racially motivated attack at the Emanuel AME Church in June 2015. After an hour of Bible study and prayer, authorities say Roof hurled racial slurs during the shooting and left three people alive so they could tell the world the killings were because he hated black people.

Final jury selection and opening statements in Roof’s federal trial on dozens of federal charges, including hate crimes and obstruction of the practice of religion, are scheduled to begin Wednesday. He also faces a death penalty trial on state murder charges.

Source: CBS News, December 5, 2016

Prosecutors say they need 7 days in church case


CHARLESTON, S.C. — Prosecutors estimate it will take about seven days to present their case against Dylann Roof, who is charged with hate crimes in the fatal shooting of nine black parishioners in a Charleston, South Carolina, church last year.

Roof’s lawyers were put back on the case Monday by the judge after Roof requested it. They said they wouldn’t need much time to prepare for the guilt phase of Roof’s trial, which is scheduled to begin Wednesday.

Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for Roof, meaning there will be a second, penalty phase of the trial if he’s found guilty. For that part, Roof wants to go back to being his own lawyer.

U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel also ruled Monday that Roof’s parents, grandmother and grandfather can remain in the courtroom during the trial even though they’re potential witnesses. All other witnesses must stay out until they testify. Roof’s grandfather is a lawyer.

Source: Associated Press, December 5, 2016

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