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NH Judge Rejects Deal in Machete Murder Case:  The Nashua (NH) Telegraph reports that a New Hampshire judge yesterday rejected a plea deal reached between prosecutors and William Marks.  Last October, Marks and four other men broke into the home of 42-year-old Kimberly Cates and killed her with a machete.  The men also attacked Cates's 11-year-old daughter, leaving her with life-threatening injuries.  Marks agreed to plead guilty in exchange for reduced charges and a sentence of 30-60 years.  Judge Gillian Abramson rejected the deal, however, stating that it did not satisfy the goals of deterrence, rehabilitation, and separation from the community.

Last Minute Stay of Execution For Oklahoma Death Row Inmate:  A federal judge today issued a stay of execution until October 16th for Jeffrey David Matthews, scheduled for execution later today, reports the Oklahoman.  Matthews was convicted of killing his 77-year-old great-uncle and assaulting his great-uncle's wife during a burglary in 1994.  The stay was issued after Matthews joined in a lawsuit challenging the death penalty. The story does not state the basis of the stay or the suit, but it is apparently a lethal injection method challenge.

Blago Verdict In:  The Chicago Tribune reports a federal jury today convicted former Gov. Rod Blagojevich of lying to the FBI - only one of 24 counts charged against him.  The jury deadlocked on the remaining counts, forcing the judge to declare a mistrial.  The government has until August 26th to decide whether to retry Blagojevich, but one Assistant U.S. Attorney has already indicated that, "[i[t is absolutely our intent to retry this."  As the verdict stands now, Blogojevich faces up to five years in prison. Update: This AP story by Michael Tarm and Don Babwin reports that the jury vote was 11-1 for conviction on selling the Senate seat.

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