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News Scan

Megan's Law Killer Can Continue Appeal: The AP reports on a New Jersey appeals court ruling today that Jesse Timmendequas, whose crimes against seven-year-old Megan Kanka led to the creation of state and federal Megan's Laws, should be allowed to pursue claims of ineffective assistance of counsel. Megan's Law requires notification when high-risk sex offenders move into a neighborhood. In 1994 Timmendequas lured seven-year-old neighbor Megan Kanka into his home where he sexually assaulted and strangled her before dumping her body in a park. At the time Timmendequas was living with two other convicted sex offenders and had previously served six years in prison for aggravated assault and attempted sexual assault of another child. Timmendequas's death sentence was converted to life without the possibility of parole after New Jersey abolished the death penalty in 2007. A state judge has been ordered to consider whether there is any merit to Timmendequas' challenges to the performance of his counsel.

Southern California Juvenile Prison to Be Closed: The AP reports the state corrections department will close one of the two remaining juvenile prisons in Southern California by January. According to corrections officials, the move is part of a long-term strategy to save money and respond to a declining offender population by transferring most youth offenders from state to county jurisdiction. The Southern Youth Reception Center and Clinic in Norwalk, which holds 209 male juvenile offenders, is the third juvenile facility to close in the last 24 months.

DNA Links Convicted Killer to 40-Year-Old Cold Case: Howard Altman and Stephen Thompson of Tampa Bay Online report cold case investigators with the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office used DNA evidence to connect Jerry Fletcher, 69, to the rape and slaying of a 14-year-old Tampa girl in 1971. Fletcher is currently serving life in prison in Illinois for the murder of a teenage girl in 1974. Pinellas sheriff's detectives made the connection about a month ago. Fletcher was not a suspect until the recent DNA evidence became available, and he did not acknowledge any involvement when questioned last week.

Louisiana Bill Would Increase Monthly Fee For Parolees and Probationers: The Times-Picayune Staff (LA) report legislation approved by the Louisiana House of Representatives would increase the monthly fees charged to people on probation and parole by $10. The Legislative Fiscal Office estimates that the increase would generate at least $3 million a year, to be used to pay probation and parole officers. The bill passed 86-5 and now goes to the Senate for a vote.

Arizona Escapee Suspect Ordered to Wear Stun Belt: Jim Seckler reports in the Mohave Daily News that a Superior Court Judge has ordered that suspected prison escapee John Charles McCluskey wear a stun belt during the duration of his trial.  McCluskey is charged with escaping from a privately-run Arizona prison last summer and kidnapping two truckers.  He also faces capital murder charges in New Mexico for the death of an elderly couple.  The stun belt, which can discharge 50,000 volts of electricity, was ordered after correctional officers discovered McCluskey had created a one-and-a-half foot newspaper club in his cell. 

Jury Instruction #105: Don't "Facebook" the Defendant During Trial:
James Lumley from Bloomberg reports an English juror will be jailed for contempt of court after she contacted the defendant during the course of trial using Facebook's instant messaging system and discussed the jury's deliberations.  The defendant, who had been acquitted of the drug charges, was also found in contempt.

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