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Pope Declares Death Penalty Inadmissible in All Cases

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ROME — Pope Francis has declared the death penalty inadmissible in all cases because it is “an attack” on the “dignity of the person,” the Vatican announced on Thursday, in a definitive shift in Roman Catholic teaching that could put enormous pressure on lawmakers and politicians around the world.
Francis, who has spoken out against capital punishment before — including in 2015 in an address to Congress — added the change to the Catechism, the collection of beliefs for the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics.
The revision says the church would work “with determination” for the abolition of capital punishment worldwide.
“I think this will be a big deal for the future of the death penalty in the world,” said John Thavis, a Vatican expert and author. “People who work with prisoners on death row will be thrilled, and I think this will become a banner social justice issue for the church,” he added.
Sergio D’Elia, the secretary of Hands Off Cain, an association that works to abolish capital puni…

California death row inmate to be freed; no retrial planned

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A man who spent nearly 25 years on California's death row for raping and killing a toddler before his conviction was overturned won't be retried and could be freed within days, authorities said Tuesday.

Vicente Benavides Figueroa, 68, has remained in prison even though the state Supreme Court last month overturned his 1993 conviction on grounds that medical testimony at his trial was false.

Many doctors who testified to the cause of the girl's injuries recanted.

Kern County Dist. Atty. Lisa Green said Tuesday that prosecutors won't retry Benavides for first-degree murder and that without the medical testimony, it would be "difficult, if not impossible" to win a conviction for second-degree murder.

Even if Benavides was convicted on the lesser charge, he would be immediately eligible for parole, Green said.

Benavides will remain on death row at San Quentin prison until a court order to release him is submitted, said Terry Thornton, spokeswoman for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

Benavides could be freed quickly once the order is provided, Thornton said.

"I've seen it happen in as little as a few hours but it definitely would be within a few days," she said.

Benavides was babysitting his girlfriend's nearly 2-year-old daughter, Consuelo Verdugo, in Delano in 1991 while the mother was at work. The couple took the injured child to an emergency room. She died about a week later.

The couple told doctors that the girl had hit her head on a door, but at trial the defense said the girl may have been struck by a car when she got out of the house and Benavides briefly lost sight of her.

A forensic pathologist concluded that the girl died from anal injuries from being sodomized, and several doctors testified that the girl's injuries were caused by sexual assault.

But nearly all later recanted, saying they hadn't seen her full medical records that indicated there was no evidence of sexual assault when the girl was first hospitalized.

They also said her genital and other injuries may have been caused by her medical treatment and some said the purported cause of death was "anatomically impossible," according to the state Supreme Court's ruling.

Source: Los Angeles Times, Associated Press, April 17, 2018


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"One is absolutely sickened, not by the crimes that the wicked have committed,
but by the punishments that the good have inflicted." -- Oscar Wilde

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