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News Scan

Tennessee Mass Murderer Convicted:  After only 90 minutes of deliberating, a Tennessee jury found Jessie Dotson guilty yesterday of six counts of first-degree murder and three counts of attempted first-degree murder, reports The Commercial Appeal (TN).  In 2008, shortly after his release from prison for another murder, Dotson fatally shot his brother and three other adults in a Memphis home, and beat and stabbed to death his 2- and 4-year-old nephews.  Three of Dotson's other nephews, including a 2-month-old baby, survived their stab wounds and were found in the home 40 hours after the attack.  Two of those surviving nephews served as the state's key witnesses, identifying Dotson as the killer.  (Surprisingly, the jury didn't buy Dotson's story that he hid under a bed while his family was murdered, left the scene without checking to see if any of them were alive, and was later "coerced" into confessing to his mother and a detective.)  The sentencing phase of trial began today, and prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.

Oral Argument Tomorrow in Death Row DNA Access Case:  The Supreme Court will hear argument tomorrow in the case Skinner v. Switzer, 09-9000, which presents the question of whether an inmate may seek access to DNA testing via a civil rights claim.  (See Kent's previous post on the case here.)  Prosecutors maintain that Skinner doesn't qualify for further DNA testing under the applicable Texas statute, and that Skinner's last minute lawsuit is merely an effort to stall his execution.  The Star-Telegram has this story

Mexican Officer Investigating Falcon Lake Disappearance Killed:  The AP reports on the recent death of a Mexican police commander investigating the disappearance of David Hartley, an American tourist who went missing while vacationing at Falcon Lake.  No further details have been released, but U.S. officials report that threats from Mexican drug gangs have hindered the search for Hartley's body.  The Mexican Foreign Ministry claims it is actively investigating the case, but Hartley's family members and Texas Governor Rick Perry are calling on Mexican officials to do more in their search.

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