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News Scan

California Wants to Try Illinois Killer Spared by DP RepealThe Associated Press reports that when Illinois Governor Pat Quinn abolished the death penalty on Wednesday, he commuted the death sentence of Andrew Urdiales, 46, to a life sentence.  Urdiales was convicted and sentenced to death in 2004 for the 1996 killing of Cassandra Corum.  Urdiales was also previously sentenced to death for killing two Chicago-area women, but his sentence was commuted to a life sentence after former Illinois Governor George Ryan cleared Illinois' death row in 2003.  The Orange County DA is now asking Governor Brown to OK a request for extradition of Urdiales to California for trial for the murders of five women.  In 2009, a California grand jury indicted Urdiales in the murders.  If Brown approves the request he will forward it to Quinn, who will decide whether or not to grant extradition of Urdiales.

Defense Opposes Mental Exam of Arizona Shooting Suspect:  Julie Watson of the Associated Press reports Jared Loughner's lawyer Judy Clarke is opposing a mental exam of her client, stating that it would interfere with her ability to work and develop trust with him.  Loughner, 22, could face the death penalty for the Tucson, Arizona shooting on January 8th that left four dead and Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords recovering from a brain injury.  U.S. District Judge Larry Burns granted the prosecutors request to give Loughner a psychological evaluation, and set a hearing for May 25 to determine if Loughner is competent to stand trial.  If Loughner is determined to be competent, it could make it more difficult for Clarke to use an insanity defense.

Federal Prisons Are Out of Execution Drug:  Andrew Welsh-Huggins of the Associated Press reports the federal government, along with many states, have run out of the lethal injection drug sodium thiopental.  U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder stated that officials are researching other alternatives to the drug and death penalty procedures.  Oklahoma and Ohio have switched to the use of a surgical sedative, pentobarbital, in lethal injections.  While Oklahoma uses pentobarbital along with other drugs to execute inmates, on Thursday Ohio executed murderer Johnnie Batson using only pentobarbital.  The federal government and other states will have to make a similar switch to pentobarbital or find another alternative.

Jury Recommends Death for Killer:  The Associated Press reports  that David Dewayne Riley Jr., 26, was convicted a second time for killing 38-year-old store clerk Scott Michael Kirtley in a 2005 liquor store robbery.  The jury made a unanimous recommendation that he be sentenced to death.  In 2007, Riley was sentenced to death for the same crime but the conviction was overturned by the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals in 2009. Nick Lough of WAFF News reports that the conviction was overturned because the judge did not instruct the jury to ignore a previous felony conviction.  

New Cars Could Have Alcohol Detectors:  MSNBC reports that a proposed California law, "The Roads Safe Act," could require an alcohol detector in every car.  If approved, this bill would make $60 million available over the next five years to research and develop an alcohol detecting device that could measure blood alcohol content of someone when they touch the steering wheel or ignition button.  Opponents, such as the American Beverage Institute, say that alcohol detectors should only be used for drunk drivers, not everyone.

Illinois Man Pleads Guilty to Murder and Sexual Assault of 73-year-old Woman: Terry Hillig of stltoday.com gives an updated report on Perry L. Henderson, who yesterday pleaded guilty to one count of first degree murder and one count of aggravated criminal sexual assault against 73-year-old Sandra Wood in her home in Alton, Illinois. Henderson entered an "open" plea, which allows prosecutors to request any penalty available under Illinois law. Madison County Assistant State's Attorney Neil Schroeder said he will request the sentence of natural life in prison. In Illinois, for first-degree murder convictions, parole is not possible until the entirety of the sentence is served. This plea came the day after the Illinois Governor signed legislation to abolish the state's death penalty. Wood's son, Rich Edelman, said he is glad Henderson pleaded guilty but added, "I'm sorry Gov. Quinn signed the bill yesterday." Henderson is a registered sex offender who has been sent to prison six times.     

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