<< Oklahoma City | Main | Cons Suing States >>

News Scan

Two British Men Fatally Shot in Florida as Part of "Gang Initiation":  Paul Thompson and Nick Britten of The Telegraph (UK) report that James Cooper, 25, and James Kouzaris, 24, from Britain were fatally shot in Florida early Saturday morning.  16-year-old Shawn Tyson, who was freed by a judge last week despite being arrested in connection with an armed robbery, is charged with the murders.  Authorities claim Cooper and Kouzaris were at a bar when they accepted a ride home from a stranger.  Instead of being driven home, they were driven to Newton, Sarasota, an area which is known for gang activity and drug dealing.  Cooper and Kouzaris were found dead after they were confronted by a gang of masked men.  Police are saying Tyson will be charged as an adult.

Repeal of Death Penalty Has Consequences:  Steve Huntley of the Chicago Sun-Times writes Governor Pat Quinn's decision to abolish the death penalty in Illinois has claimed its first victim.  Jitka Vesel, 36, was stalked and murdered by her Canadian ex-boyfriend Dmitry Smirnov, 20. According to DuPage County State's Attorney Robert Berlin, a videotaped interrogation by police showed Smirnov saying,"he had researched whether Illinois still had the death penalty and had researched it as recently as the morning of the murder."  Smirnov and Vesel met on an internet dating site and he moved to the Chicago area before returning to Canada after their relationship ended.  Smirnov continued to harass Vesel and returned to the United States two weeks ago.  He bought a handgun in Seattle and glued a GPS device to Vesel's car before tracking her down and shooting her.  Opponents of capital punishment claim among other things that it is not a deterrent for crime, but Vesel's murder may prove otherwise.  "Certainly in this case I think there was a considerable thought about potential penalties before he decided to act," said Berlin.  See Bill Otis's previous post here.

Court Rules Man is Sane Enough to Drop Appeals and Be Executed:  Eric Connor of Greenville Online (SC) reports that Jeffrey Motts, 35, is scheduled to die by lethal injection on May 6th after the Supreme Court found him to be competent enough to waive his appeals.  Motts had asked the South Carolina Supreme Court to dismiss his appellate attorneys and allow him to represent himself because he wanted to die for his crime.  Motts was already serving life in prison for binding and shooting two elderly victims in 1995 when he strangled his cellmate Charles Martin in 2005.  During his trial he asked for his life to be spared because he didn't want his family to have to live with his execution.  Shortly after his conviction, however, he began writing the state Supreme Court, seeking to drop all his remaining appeals because he believes he deserves to die. 

NY Lawmakers Propose Domestic Violence Offender Registry: Your News Now (NY) staff report that New York state lawmakers have proposed a bill to create a registry for domestic violence offenders. If the legislation is passed, anyone convicted of domestic violence would be listed on a statewide database, similar to the registry of sex offenders. The offender's basic personal information, employment information, and address would be made available on the registry. Bronx Assemblywoman Vanessa Gibson stated, "this is about information and this is about education."

Texas Bill Would Allow Testimony About Prior Conduct in Sexual Assault Cases: Patricia Kilday and Brian Rogers of the Houston Chronicle report  that the Texas Senate has tentatively approved a bill that would allow juries to hear testimony about similar allegations against a defendant in sexual assault cases, even if the similar incident did not result in criminal charges or a conviction. Before the testimony could be introduced, a judge would have to hear the evidence outside the presence of the jury and deem it relevant. A final vote on the bill is expected to take place in the coming days, and a companion bill is pending in a House committee. 

Leave a comment

Monthly Archives