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News Scan

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Former Duke Lacrosse Players Allowed to Pursue Lawsuit:  Mike Baker of the Associated Press reports U.S. District Judge James Beaty is allowing former Duke lacrosse players to pursue claims of malicious prosecution, concealment of evidence, and fabrication of false evidence against the ex-county prosecutor and police investigators.  In 2006 Reade Seligmann, Collin Finnerty, and Dave Evans were falsely accused of raping a stripper during a lacrosse team party.  All charges were dropped a year later when North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper declared the players innocent and victims of a "tragic rush to accuse".  The 2007 a civil lawsuit claims that former District Attorney Mike Nifong and investigators intentionally concealed DNA evidence and produced a misleading DNA report.

Death Row Inmate Executed After Appeal to U.S. Supreme Court Denied:  Bob Johnson of the Associated Press reports that Alabama death row inmate William Glenn Boyd was executed on Thursday. Boyd was convicted of the 1986 kidnapping and shooting deaths of Fred and Evelyn Blackmon.  Boyd and co-defendant Robert Milstead kidnapped the Blackmon's and forced them to cash a check for $5,000 before driving the couple to a rural area and shooting them to death.  Milstead pleaded guilty and testified against Boyd to avoid the death penalty.  Boyd had filed a petition to stop his execution claiming that the trial judge violated state rules when he overrode the jury's recommendation of life in prison without parole and sentenced Boyd to death.  The U.S. Supreme Court denied the appeal about three hours before the execution. Alabama Governor Robert Bentley also declined to grant clemency.

Court Overturns Shooting Conviction:  The Chicago Tribune reports the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned Antonio Jones' conviction for the 2004 shootings that left four dead, including a 23-month-old boy.  Prosecutors allege Jones and two others shot four people during a robbery.  The appeals court found the trial court erred when it allowed police to testify about an informant's hearsay tip as evidence against Jones.

Man Avoids Death Penalty in Double Murder:  WYFF 4 News (SC) reports William Cannon Gresham, 25, agreed to a plea deal on Thursday to avoid the death penalty.  Gresham and co-defendant Shawn Owens, 22, are charged in the deaths of Eloise Corley, 66, and her sister Audrey Scull, 62.  Eloise was stabbed during a home burglary and when her husband Jerry and sister Audrey returned home they were kidnapped and shot.  Jerry was left in critical condition, but later survived.  Gresham pleaded guilty to all counts and will be sentenced after he testifies against Owens, for whom prosecutors plan on seeking the death penalty.

Texas Bill Would Raise Age Limit For a Capital Offense: Terrence Stutz of Dallas News has this story about a proposed bill in Texas that would expand death penalty eligible crimes to include murder of children up to 10-years-old. Currently in Texas, age six is the limit that triggers a capital offense. Texas has the youngest age limit for the murder of a child to be a capital offense, and most states classify the murder under the age of 12 as a capital crime. The legislation was approved by the Senate on Wednesday and now goes to the House for a vote.

No Clemency for Arizona Murderer: Amanda Lee Myers of the Associated Press reports that the Arizona Board of Executive Clemency decided yesterday by a 4-1 vote not to intervene in the execution of Daniel Wayne Cook scheduled for next Tuesday. Cook was convicted of two counts of first-degree murder for the 1987 killings of Kevin Swaney, 16, and Carlos Cruz-Ramos, 26, in Lake Havasu City. Cook and his roommate, John Matzke, stole $97 from Cruz-Ramos before gagging him and tying him to a chair. Cook and Matzke tortured Cruz-Ramos for six hours by beating and cutting him, burning his body with cigarettes, and sodomizing him before killing him by standing on a pipe over his throat. Cook sodomized Swaney before strangling him by hand. Matzke received a lighter sentence for testifying against Cook and was released in 2007. The board also voted against making a recommendation to the governor to delay the execution because of questions raised about the importation of two drugs used in the three-drug protocol. Cook's attorneys told the clemency board that Cook was only recently diagnosed with PTSD and brain dysfunction stemming from the abuse he suffered during childhood.

Convicted Sex Offender Arrested After 28 Years: Victoria Campbell of News 4 (NV) reports that 59-year-old Steven James, a convicted sex offender who has been wanted since 1983 for violating his probation, was arrested in Reno earlier this week by the US Marshals Service. James was convicted in Washington in 1983 of attempted indecent liberties with a child under the age of 14. He was sentenced to probation, but disappeared that same year. Christopher Hoye of the US Marshal for the State of Nevada says, "this arrest showcases how cooperation between federal and local law enforcement is paramount in locating fugitives fleeing from justice, in this case for nearly 28 years."

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John Matzke gets out of prison 20 years after committing a vile double murder. It shows we still have a long long way to go with respect to sentencing.

I wonder how the parents of the victims feel about that.

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