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News Scan

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Massachusetts Judge Orders New Trial for Serial Killer: On Thursday, Chief U.S. District Judge Mark Wolf threw out the death sentence, ordering a new trial for the serial killer Gary Sampson, on the grounds that he was denied his constitutional right to have his sentence decided by an impartial jury. Wolf had already investigated previous jury biases as reported here, but found that one of the jurors proved to have a "high risk" of sentencing Sampson based on her life experiences she never disclosed. Mike Rizzo the father of one of Sampson's victims told reporters: "I wish I could say I was surprised. I'm not surprised, I'm extremely disappointed and phenomenally outraged at the fact that one man with the ego the size of Judge Wolf's tried to overturn the good work done by so many people in coming to the right decision many years ago." AP has this story in the Washington Post.

Prison Realignment Reduces Jail-time: Andy Furillo reports in the Sacramento Bee of Judge Ben Davidian's decision to give long-time criminal Herbert Hale Sr. a 2.5 year county-jail term instead of the usual 21 years in prison, making him the first Sacramento inmate affected by the state's new realignment plan that went into effect Oct. 1. Hale was arrested by police in January for the purchase and transportation of 10-bindles of black-tar heroin outside McClatchy Park. California's prison reduction has caused far more "low-level" offenders, like Hail, to be sentenced to county jails that are not adequate for long-term lockups, hence the short term despite their criminal histories.

Lawsuit Claims Alabama Counties Keep Blacks Off Juries: The Equal Justice Initiative filed a federal lawsuit Wednesday alleging that Houston and Henry counties in south east Alabama create obstacles to exclude blacks from some juries. The lawsuit claims that in a series of cases between 2006-2010 where the death penalty was imposed, blacks only made 5% of the jurors in the two counties that contain 29% and 23% respectively.

Ex-Con Sentenced For Life for Xmas-Slaying
: Cook County Judge James B. Linn sentenced Lee Cration to life imprisonment for shooting retired state employee and civil rights activist Ralph Elliott while on parole for a 1985 murder conviction. As Judge Linn handed down the sentence for Cration he stated parolee as a danger and a menace and telling him, "This court has no mercy for you. You will never have an opportunity to hurt an honest person again." Lauren Fitzpatrick has this story.

Texas Wife Finally Faces Charges For Husband's Death: Mary-Ann Rivera, 76, finally faces charges for the 1970 murder of her husband which she allegedly doused with hot grease. Rivera was a fugitive for more than four decades having fled from Texas to Lake Park, Georgia on a bail of $10,000 with her children.Though many of her Georgia friends question the arrest after all of this time, especially with her old age and poor health, spokeswoman for the Harris County District Attorney's Office, Donna Hawkins stated: "The defendant was charged with committing a rather brutal murder of her husband. Although she was able to elude authorities for over 40 years, she ultimately must face judgment in a court of law for the murder of her husband." CBS News has this story.

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Nice quote from the father of one of the victims. These imperious judges need to feel the sting of nasty complaints from an outraged citizenry.

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