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News Scan

Serial Killer Faces Death Penalty: The Orange County DA's request for the extradition of ex-con and serial killer, Andrew Urdiales was granted as he was moved to California for his new trial, this time facing the death penalty. The OC district attorney's office requested the extradition after Governor Pat Quinn abolished the death penalty in Illinois where Urdiales was to be tried as reported here. Urdiales is scheduled for an arraignment Dec. 1 at the Central Justice Center in Santa Ana. L.A. Times writer, Robert J. Lopez reports.

Death Penalty Trial Gets Started: Jutta Biggerstaff reports in the Hi-Desert Star (Yucca Valley, north of Palm Springs, Cal.) of the special requirements potential jurors will face in the capital murder trial of Sherhaun K. Brown. The jury selection will begin Nov. 9 from a pool of 600 people who are "time qualified" as well as "death qualified" meaning a lot of time off work and at least some consideration for choosing the death penalty. Brown is charged with breaking into the home of Kristy Vert, 54, stabbing her to death and raping and slashing the throat of Vert's daughter-in-law, who lived at the home with her two children. Brown has several prior convictions including burglary, possession of a controlled substance, DUI, and vandalism, all crimes that qualify him as a "low risk" offender in some states.

DNA Evidence Led Police To Rapist: Ralph Skundrick has been charged with the June 2002 rape of a Cranberry Township, Penn. woman who woke up to find a man standing over her inside her apartment. Before raping her, the man threatened to kill her and her child if she reported the incident. Police collected DNA evidence from the scene but yielded no matches, until March of 2010 when a Pennsylvania State Police laboratory contacted Cranberry police after identifying Skundrich, a convicted offender, as a suspect. Further DNA samples were taken from the suspect who was in jail for unrelated charges. Skundrich's criminal history dates back to 1987 and he currently awaits trial on assault charges in Allegheny County and on drug charges in Westmoreland County. WTAE Pittsburgh reports.

Realignment Leaves Serious Criminals in Counties:  Governor Jerry Brown's promise that his inmate realignment plan would only require that felons with a "low risk" for violence be kept in California counties rather than sent to state prison is not being kept, according to this story by Sacramento Bee reporter Brad Branan.  The County's Assistant Chief Probation Officer  said that the majority of felons left in the community have prior convictions for serious and violent crimes.  Under the plan, if a criminal's most recent offense is not a serious or violent crime, then he cannot be sent to prison, even if he has prior convictions for such crimes.  One example is a felon convicted of grand theft with a prior conviction for armed robbery.  While the District Attorney and Sheriff are insisting that funds for the realignment plan be spent for more jail space to house the most serious criminals, the ACLU insists that the funds be spent on rehabilitation programs.    

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