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News Scan

Jury Deliberates Death Penalty For Federal Case: Ashley Meeds of Las Cruces Sun-News reports that a New Mexico federal jury is expected to decide this morning whether to give the death sentence to violent gang member, Larry Lujan, 32, who was convicted of the 2005 kidnapping and murder of Dana "Joe" Grauke. Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark A. Saltman states: "Some crimes are so cruel, so heinous, and show such an utter disrespect for human life that they deserve the ultimate punishment." Saltman refered to Lujan's kidnapping of the teen, forcing him to perform oral sex on him, then cutting his throat so deep  with a meat cleaver, it nearly beheaded him, and dumping his body in a canal afterward. The trial took place in federal court because the murderer drove Grauke's body over state lines.

Gang Member Convicted for Killing Deputy: Hudson Sangree of the Sacramento Bee reports on a Yolo County juror's decision to convict gang member Marco Antonio Topete, 32, of first-degree murder with the special circumstances of lying in wait, murder to avoid arrest, murder by a gang member and murder of a peace officer. The prosecution argued the "killing of the Deputy was a premeditated murder intended to let Topete - a violent parolee with two felony strikes against him - get away." Topete faces the death penalty when his sentencing trial begins October 12.

Muslim Lawsuit Sparks Pork Ban in Ohio Prisons: In 2009 Ohio prison officials responded to a lawsuit by Muslim inmates by removing all pork products from prison menus, according to this story by AP writer Andrew Welsh-Huggins.  Ironically, the inmate's lawsuit had nothing to do with pork products, but instead claimed that the state is restraining Muslim inmates' religious freedoms by not providing meals prepared according to Islamic law, known as halal, while at the same time supplying Jewish prisoners with kosher meals. The lawsuit continues, while the Ohio worries a new menu could hurt them financially given the current budget situation. The trial is expected to take place in January. 


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