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Will the U.S. Finally End the Death Penalty?

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In the past, abolition efforts have faced a backlash—but Gavin Newsom’s moratorium may be different.
The American death penalty is extraordinarily fragile, with death sentences and executions on the decline. Public support for the death penalty has diminished. The practice is increasingly marginalized around the world. California, with its disproportionately large share of American death-row inmates, announces an end to the death penalty. The year? 1972. That’s when the California Supreme Court declared the death penalty inconsistent with the state’s constitutional prohibition of cruel or unusual punishments—only to have the death penalty restored a year later through popular initiative and legislation.
On Wednesday, again, California walked back its commitment to the death penalty. Though not full-fledged abolition, Governor Gavin Newsom declared a moratorium on capital punishment lasting as long as his tenure in office, insisting that the California death penalty has been an “abject…

Texas man on death row for decapitating 3 kids loses appeal

Death-row cell, Polunsky Unit, Livingston, Texas
The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals rejected an appeal Wednesday from a 37-year-old Rio Grande Valley man on death row for stabbing and beheading his common-law wife's 3 children 15 years ago.

John Allen Rubio's appeals lawyer argued unsuccessfully that Rubio's attorneys at his 2010 trial in Cameron County were deficient, that the trial court failed to sufficiently pay for his appellate investigation of the case and that the Texas death penalty sentencing procedure was unconstitutional.

The state's highest criminal court also refused a second supplemental appeal from Rubio as legally improper and declined to consider the merits of the arguments in that appeal.

"I have to say overall I am not surprised by the court's actions." Rubio's attorney, David Schulman, said. "I'm very, very disappointed."

He said he would ask the appeals court for a rehearing, saying he was "shocked" the judges refused the supplemental appeal that included arguments that prosecutors refused to discuss a plea bargain, that mitigating evidence that could have changed the outcome wasn't presented to jurors, and that the trial defense team was hampered by insufficient money from the trial court.

If the request failed, Schulman said other attorneys were prepared to take Rubio's case into the federal courts.

Rubio was convicted twice of the March 11, 2003, slayings of 3-year-old Julissa Quesada, 14-month-old John E. Rubio and 2-month-old Mary Jane Rubio in a squalid Brownsville apartment. The appeals court in 2007 overturned his 1st conviction, ruling that statements from the children's mother, Angela Camacho, were wrongly allowed as evidence during the 1st trial. Camacho pleaded guilty and is serving a life sentence for her role in the slayings.

Records show Rubio's brother and his girlfriend stopped by the apartment, spotted the slain infant, ran outside screaming and flagged down a police officer. The officer testified that after he saw decapitated body of a child in a back bedroom, Rubio held his wrists out and said, "arrest me."

At his 2nd trial, Rubio pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity, a defense rejected by a jury.

Defense experts testified his childhood - filled with violence at home, "toxic" parents, drug use and prostitution - damaged him developmentally.

Rubio told authorities the children were possessed. Defense experts diagnosed him as suffering from paranoid schizophrenia, a determination disputed by prosecution experts.

Source: The Associated Press, May 24, 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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