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News Scan

Pennsylvania Death Row Inmate's State of Mind Revisited:  The Pennsylvania Supreme Court faced the question yesterday of whether death row inmate George Banks's on-again, off-again understanding of his sentence is sufficient to spare him from execution.  Banks's attorney argued he lives in a permanent delusional state, but the state countered he has shown times of complete rationality.  Banks has already undergone three competency hearings; a county judge twice deemed him incompetent but was overturned on appeal and a similar ruling earlier this year prompted the state's most recent appeal.  Banks was sentenced to death for gunning down 13 people in 1982, and his case previously made it all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.  (Read CJLF's brief here.)  Terrie Morgan-Besecker of The Times Leader (PA) has this story.

Victim's Family Urges Death Sentence:  AP writer Jay Reeves reports victims' family members are fighting for a death sentence for Scott Lamar Abbott, convicted of murdering his ex-girlfriend and three others during an early morning slashing frenzy in an Alabama home.  A jury recommended a life sentence, but the family members collected more than 4,000 petitions asking the judge to instead impose a death sentence.  Abbott is also facing attempted murder charges for attacking a jail official.

Don't Add Him as a Friend:  ABC News reports on the resulting outrage after the discovery of a Facebook page for Oklahoma inmate James Walker, which he maintained from behind bars using a Blackberry.  Walker was sentenced to 30 years after he and a cohort shot to death Sheriff Dwight Woodrell Jr., reportedly singing "I Shot the Sheriff" after the killing.  Walker's Facebook page included updates about prison life, communications with outside friends, and photographs displaying tattoos, marijuana, and shanks.  The mother of slain Officer Woodrell stated Walker doesn't deserve to be alive, let along update his Facebook status.

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