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Challenge to Connecticut Death Sentence:  Connecticut Judge John Blue heard arguments today from the defense team of Steven Hayes, recently sentenced to death for murdering three members of the Petit family.  Hayes's attorneys are seeking a new trial, a new penalty phase hearing, and/or a reduction in sentence, claiming the jury's decisions were "the product of passion and prejudice" and "impermissible emotional factors."  Judge Blue delayed ruling on the motion.  Randall Beach of the New Haven Register has this story (and relevant court pleadings).

Death Sentence in South Carolina Murder Case:  A Georgia man was sentenced to death yesterday for the kidnap and murder of 16-year-old Samuel Sturrup, reports the AP for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.  Prosecutors alleged Steven "Big Man" Barnes beat Sturrup with a pipe, drove him to a wooded area in South Carolina, and ordered four other people to shoot the teen before personally delivering a final shot to the head.  Barnes was arrested in his home, where police also found four teenage girls Barnes had imprisoned and forced to have sex for money.

Feds Move to Outlaw Synthetic Marijuana: 
Alicia A. Caldwell of the AP reports on the DEA's efforts to outlaw five chemicals used to make synthetic marijuana, after the government agency received increasing reports about the products from poison centers and law enforcement agencies.  Nicknamed "spice," the chemicals mimic THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, and are sold in head shops and on the internet.  

The Police Didn't Get the Memo:  WTAE (PA) reports that in response to a fire at the George Washington Hotel, Police Chief J.R. Blyth discovered in one of the hotel rooms the "most grisly murder scene in his 35 years in law enforcement," complete with blood on the floor, mattress, and pillows.  Blyth called several detectives to the scene before learning the room was a set for a horror film shot several years ago, left intact for possible re-takes.

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