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News Scan

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New Evidence Contradicts AG Eric Holder's Statements: Sharyl Attkisson of CBS News reports new documents show Attorney General Eric Holder was briefed on the controversial Fast and Furious operation as early as July 2010. This directly contradicts a statement Holder made to Congress in May 2011, when he said he had heard about the operation for the first time just a few weeks prior. Internal Justice Department documents obtained by CBS News show Holder began frequently receiving memos regarding Fast and Furious at least ten months before the May hearing. The documents came from the head of the National Drug Intelligence Center and Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer. The Justice Department told CBS News that Holder misunderstood the question from the Congressional committee - he did know about Fast and Furious, just not the details. Ever since an ATF agent blew the whistle on the operation the Justice Department has tried to publicly distance itself, but the new evidence proves high level officials knew about it.

Utah Study Shows Convictions for Child Homicides Similar to Adult Homicides: Aaron Falk of The Salt Lake Tribune reports a new study by doctors at the University of Utah's Department of Pediatrics shows that in Utah suspects of child homicides are now convicted at similar rates as those of adult homicides. Experts attribute the finding to new laws, improved forensics, and a shift in cultural attitudes. The article cites examples of improved forensics in proving a shaken-baby case, and the creation of the state's child abuse homicide law.

Wednesday's Execution for Georgia Inmate Delayed: Retuers reports Georgia death row inmate Marcus Ray Johnson, scheduled for execution tomorrow, has been granted a stay. Doughterty County Superior Court Chief Judge W.E. Lockette delayed the execution and set a February hearing to evaluation Johnson's request for further DNA testing. Johnson was convicted of the 1994 rape and murder of a woman Johnson met at a bar, then mutilated and stabbed 41 times with a small knife before leaving her body lying across the front seat of her car. Johnson admitted to police that he "hit [the victim] hard," but claimed "I didn't kill her intentionally if I did kill her."

Utah Supreme Court Debates Right of Defendant to Decide Evidence: Emiley Morgan of Deseret News (UT) reports the Utah Supreme Court heard argument today about whether a capital defendant has the right to decide against putting on mitigating evidence during the sentencing phase of trial - or whether that decision rests with the defendant's attorney. The issue is presented in the case of Floyd Maestas, who was sentenced to death in 2008 for the stomping death of a 75-year-old woman. Maestas waived his right to present mitigating evidence during the sentencing phase, saying he didn't want any information publicized that could embarrass his family. Maestas's defense attorney argued today that the decision to waive that right is a strategic decision that should have been made by his attorneys.  

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