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Two California Death Row Inmates Die in One Week:  The Associated Press reports California death row inmate Richard Ray Parson, 67, died last week from natural causes while awaiting execution.  Parson was sentenced to death for the 1994 murder of Theresa Schmiedt, the mother of an inmate Parson met in prison.  Parson beat her to death with a claw hammer and stole her purse and bank cards.  The Associated Press also reports a second California death row inmate, James Van Pelt, 54, died over the weekend of natural causes while awaiting execution for the 1985 torture and murder of Frank Aguilar, whom Van Pelt mistakenly thought had killed one of his friends.  54 inmates have died on California's death row since the state reinstated the death penalty in 1978.  13 have been executed.

Convicted Murderer Charged with Cold Case Slayings:  Meghan Barr of the Associated Press reports that convicted murderer Joseph Harwell, 50, of Ohio was charged today with two additional cold case murders.  A DNA hit linked Harwell, currently serving time for a 1997 murder, to the body of Mary Thomas, who was discovered raped and beaten to death in an abandoned building in 1989.  DNA also linked Harwell to the rape and murder of Tondilear Harge, found in an empty lot in 1996.  Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Bill Mason states this is the second serial murderer being investigated in Cleveland's east side, after the bodies of 11 slain women were found in the home of Anthony Sowell in 2009.   

Investigators to Search for More Victims of East Coast Rapist:  John Christoffersen and Matthew Barakat of the Associated Press report  that 39-year-old Aaron Thomas, the suspected "East Coast Rapist," made his first court appearance in a Connecticut courtroom on Monday on charges of raping a woman in front of her baby in 2007.  Investigators say DNA from a discarded cigarette butt links Thomas to rapes in at least four states along the east coast, and possibly additional unreported attacks.  Prosecutor David Strollo also alleges Thomas asked police "Why haven't you picked me up sooner? and "What took you so long to get me?"  Investigators claim Thomas could have been caught years ago if Virginia permitted "familial DNA" testing, used to identify a suspect from a family member's DNA sample, because Thomas had a family member with a sample in a police database.  Familial DNA testing is barred in most states, though Virginia is now moving closer to allowing it.

Jurors Speak About Life Sentence for Cop Killer:  Jeremy Kohler of STL Today reports on two jurors who claim the life or death decision for convicted murderer Todd Shepard was roughly split early on in deliberations.  Shepard was convicted of shooting to death Missouri police Sergeant Michael King.  On the witness stand, Shepard told jurors he had no remorse for the killing and that he and some friends had talked for years about killing an officer to spark an anti-government revolution.  The jurors report that on Friday, they went home with a 10-2 vote in favor of a life term.  On Saturday, the two voters for a death sentence returned to court to vote for a life sentence, with one of the voters allegedly in tears as she switched.  In Missouri, if the jury cannot reach a unanimous sentencing verdict, the decision goes to the judge. 

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"54 inmates have died on California's death row since the state reinstated the death penalty in 1978. 13 have been executed."

Natural causes. The leading cause of death on California's death row.

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