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News Scan

Jury Recommends Death Penalty for Killer:  David Ovalle of the Miami Herald reports a jury yesterday recommended a sentence of death for Brandon Rolle, convicted of fatally shooting Illinois tourist Ronald Gentile.  Prosecutors claim Rolle shot Gentile and stole his jewelry after Gentile stopped to ask for directions.  Rolle later posed at a nightclub with his finger outstretched like a gun wearing the victim's stolen bracelet.  Rolle had a long juvenile arrest record and had served three prison terms, his last one ending 17 days before Gentile's murder.

Man Convicted in 1975 Cold Case Killing:  Tracey Kaplan of the Mercury News reports that convicted sex offender Edward Dees, already serving a life sentence for four sexual assaults, pleaded no contest yesterday to killing Sandra Howard in 1975.  Howard's parents found the 22-year-old newlywed with a cake knife in her chest and a man's tie pulled tightly around her neck, and with evidence that she had been raped and strangled.  Dees was charged in 2007 after DNA evidence linked him to the crime.

Illinois to Seek Death Penalty for Harris Brothers:  Edith Brady-Lunny of the Pantagraph (IL) reports that prosecutors will seek the death penalty for Christopher J. Harris and Jason L. Harris for the home invasion murders of Ruth and Rick Gee and three of their children who were found beaten to death in 2009.  The Harris brothers will each face charges of first degree murder, home invasion, residential burglary, and attempted sexual assault, as well as the attempted murder of Tabitha Gee, who was 3 years old at the time of the attack.  Illinois lawmakers voted last month to abolish the death penalty, but Governor Pat Quinn has not signed the bill into law.  The prosecutor has expressed concerns that defense costs currently funded by the State Capital Litigation Trust Fund may fall on the county if the death penalty is abolished before the end of the trial.

California Prison Labor Rules Frustrate Ban on Inmate Cellphones:  Jack Dolan of the Los Angeles Times reports on an obstacle to keeping cellphones away from California's inmates.  The California prison guards union estimates that if officers are required to go through scanners at the beginning of a shift, it will cost millions of dollars more per year collectively to compensate them for the additional "walk time" to get from the front gate to their posts.  Last year, more than 10,000 cell phones made their way into California prisons.  Senator Alex Padilla has responded with a bill that would impose a $5,000 fine for anyone caught smuggling cell phones into prison and lengthen sentences for up to 5 years for inmates caught with cell phones.

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