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News Scan

Illinois Repeal of Death Penalty Passes House:  The AP reports the effort to repeal the death penalty in Illinois was approved yesterday by the House after receiving the necessary 60 votes.  An earlier vote yesterday missed the mark by just one vote.  The legislation will now move to the Senate.

Jurors Explain Death Sentence in Father-Son Bank Bombing:  Convicted murderers Bruce and Joshua Turnridge's lack of emotion compelled jurors to decide on death sentences, reports Helen Jung of The Oregonian.  Jurors from the three-month trial also cited Joshua's arrogance and lack of eye contact while testifying, and the tremendous loss to the family members of the slain police officers as motives for their decision.  Some jurors balked against their personal and religious values in deciding on death sentences, as one juror explained their desire for the two men to "give us something: remorse, expression, tears. . . We wanted to save them so badly but there was such a lack of emotion and caring and compassion."

Ohio Tree-Cutter Sentenced to LWOP:  Allison Manning of The Columbus Dispatch (OH) reports 30-year-old Matthew Hoffman was sentenced yesterday to life without parole after pleading guilty to 10 felony counts, including murder, rape, and kidnapping.  Prosecutors allege that in November, while attempting to rob a home, Hoffman killed Tina Herrmann and Stephanie Sprang.  When Hermann's 11-year-old son and 13-year-old daughter returned home from school, prosecutors claim Hoffman killed the boy and abducted and sexually assaulted the girl.  In exchange for removal of the death penalty, Hoffman directed authorities to a hollowed-out tree in rural Knox County, where the dismembered bodies of the three murder victims and the family dog were discovered.

More on Governor Schwarzenegger's Last-Minute Commutations:  Debra J. Saunders of the SF Chronicle has this piece on former Governor Schwarzenegger's three last-minute commutations.  Saunders focuses on the notable commutation of Esteban Nunez, the son of former Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez, noting that Schwarzenegger overlooked a few important aspects of Nunez's crime when determining a reduced sentence was appropriate.  Saunders also opines that the circumstances of the pardon indicate that the former governor "exited [the office] like a con man on the run."

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