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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 who raped, killed toddler dodges death penalty

Chet Shelton
GATESVILLE, Texas (KWTX) Chet Michael Shelton, 29, who was accused of raping and killing a toddler, dodged a possible death sentence Friday when he pleaded guilty to capital murder in exchange to a life prison sentence without the possibility of parole.

In entering the plea, he acknowledged he is guilty of causing the toddler's death, but as deputies were leading Shelton from the courthouse after the hearing, he told a KWTX reporter, “I didn’t do it.”

Makai “Kai” Brooks Lamar, 2, died after he was found unresponsive on Jan. 13, 2016 at his family's home in Gatesville was severely beaten and sexually assaulted, according to a graphic arrest warrant affidavit.

Prosecutors wanted to pursue the death penalty, but the toddler’s family didn’t want to go through the emotional stress of a trial.

“Our number one priority was to seek justice,” Coryell County District Attorney Dustin Boyd said Friday.

“In securing a conviction for capital murder and a sentence of life in prison without parole, and in turn having the defendant waive all possible appeals and potential writs, gives Makai and his family the closure and justice they sought.”

“Although some may question the decision in not going forward with the death penalty, it is paramount they first consider the desires of the family,” he said.

“This event has caused immeasurable grief and heartache for them,” he said.

Family members were in the courtroom Friday afternoon and addressed Shelton after the sentencing,

“I can’t describe the hate I have for you. Although I believe you belong in hell I hope hell comes for you in your prison cell,” the toddler’s mother, Madeleine Lamar said.

“The evidence we’ve seen is disgusting. You are a monster. This would have been Kai’s first year to walk into a school but you Chet Shelton tore his world apart. I know you murdered him and we wished you’d get the death penalty but we’ve had enough of this,” she said.

Shelton was arrested four days after the infant’s death and was initially charged with aggravated sexual assault of a child.

The brutal murder stirred anger among some residents of the community and there were immediate calls for an upgraded charge, but prosecutors resisted the pressure as they build their case, and in June 2016 Shelton was indicted for capital murder.

A medical examiner determined that the boy’s death was a result of blunt force trauma to the head and internal injuries and that prior to his death the boy had been anally penetrated which caused "severe and distinct trauma," Texas Ranger Jason Bobo, an investigator on the case, said in the original arrest affidavit.

The affidavit also showed a time line of events on that day during which Shelton told officers he "was in care, custody and control" of the boy.

Shelton, who, authorities say was the mother's boyfriend, told investigators he had been caring for the toddler "all of the majority of the day" while the child's mother worked a double shift at a Gatesville restaurant.

During the interview Shelton told officers that the boy fell asleep on a living room couch and that later he moved the boy to his bedroom for the night.

Shelton said he stepped outside the house to smoke and when he returned to the house intending to take a shower, he went to check on the child, whom he found not breathing.

He said he attempted CPR but was not successful, so he carried the boy next door to where a deputy sheriff lived and an ambulance was called.

Source: kwtx.com, John Carroll, June 8, 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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