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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: Border Patrol agent’s killer gets the death penalty

Mexican national Gustavo Tijerina-Sandoval, lower left,
BROWNSVILLE — A jury on Tuesday decided Gustavo Tijerina Sandoval deserves the death penalty for the 2014 murder of a U.S. Border Patrol agent.

Tijerina Sandoval, 34, was convicted last week in the death of Javier Vega Jr., the border agent who was shot to death while fishing with family in a rural area near Harlingen.

On Aug. 3, 2014, Tijerina Sandoval and another man attempted to rob the Vega family at gunpoint, when Vega Jr., a veteran of the Marine Corps., pulled out his weapon. After a brief exchange of gunfire Vega Jr. was shot in the chest and died on the way to the hospital.

In addition to receiving the death penalty, Tijerina Sandoval was sentenced to life for attempted capital murder regarding the others in the Vega party. The Border Patrol agent’s father, Javier Vega Sr., was shot in the back during the firefight.

Ismael Hernandez Vallejo, accused of being the second man in the robbery attempt, also is charged with capital murder and attempted capital murder. He will be tried later this year and also faces the death penalty.

Both Tijerina Sandoval and Hernandez Vallejo are Mexican citizens who were in the United States illegally at the time of the attack on the Vega family.

Vega's widow, Andrea Brown Vega, and two of their three sons, as well as his mother and father, were all present and testified during Tijerina Sandoval’s trial, held in the courtroom of 197th state District Judge Migdalia Lopez.

Early in the proceedings, the judge issued a gag order prohibiting anyone connected to the trial from talking to the media. That order was still in place Tuesday, pending the formal handing down of the sentence.

Before the trial began and before the judge issued the gag order, the family declined comment but a Border Patrol union spokesman issued a statement.

“It is a very difficult time for the entire Vega family,” Chris Cabrera, a spokesman for the National Border Patrol Council, said Feb. 13 as jury selection started. “We, like the family, just want justice to be served.”

Vega’s father and mother, Marie Vega, mounted a lengthy fight to have their son’s death considered as having occurred in the line of duty, enlisting the help of several Texas congressmen and U.S. Sen. John Cornyn. In September 2016, a U.S. Border Patrol committee determined that Vega died in the line of duty.

Late last year the South Texas immigration checkpoint in Sarita, where Vega was stationed, was renamed in his honor.

Source: mysanantonio.com, Aaron Nelsen, June 5, 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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