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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…

Utah: Funds authorized for defense of Ogden couple in death penalty case

Brenda Emile, 23, and Miller Costello, 26
OGDEN — Weber County commissioners have agreed to continue covering the cost of public defenders for two Ogden parents charged with murdering their toddler in a potential death penalty case.

The county's three-member commission unanimously approved new contracts for the attorneys at its Tuesday meeting, but not without some reluctance.

"This is frustrating," said Commissioner Jim Harvey. "People in the community make horrible decisions each county taxpayer, their property tax, has to pay for, because of state code. That bothers me."

A judge early in the case decided Brenda Emile, 23, and Miller Costello, 26, could not afford to hire lawyers and appointed them public defenders. State law requires the county to foot the bill.

RELATEDUtah to seek death penalty for parents charged with killing daughter, covering her in makeup

But Weber's existing contracts with defense attorneys do not cover death penalty cases, because of the vast amounts of time and work they can take, so a new deal was needed, deputy Weber County attorney Bryan Baron told the board.

The contracts provided by the county show a lead attorney for each parent will receive $170 per hour, and a second attorney will make $140 an hour. Attorney fees for each defendant are capped at $100,000, or $70,000 if prosecutors decide before a trial to no longer pursue a death penalty.

Baron said the total cost of the case is a "shot in the dark." But he reviewed the cost of defense in nine other capital cases in Utah and found they cost an average of $220,000 apiece, he said.

Weber County officials previously decided not to contribute to a statewide defense fund that helps local government covers such costs because of the price tag, Baron said Tuesday, but he didn't know the exact fee.

RELATEDUtah parents could face death penalty in death of their 3-year-old daughter

The new contracts will help inform the commission's decision when it next considers whether to buy into a state indigent defense fund, but no immediate decision has been made, Harvey said Wednesday.

Prosecutors have said they would seek the death penalty if the couple accused of beating, burning and not feeding their daughter Angelina is convicted of a charge of aggravated murder, a first-degree felony. 

The pair has pleaded not guilty and is due back in court in Ogden Aug. 13

Source: Deseret News, Annie Knox, August 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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Will the U.S. Finally End the Death Penalty?