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News Scan

2002 Death Sentence Stands: On Thursday, a federal appeals court rejected the August decision (reported here) made by a three-judge panel to overturn the 2002 death sentence of Marvin Gabrion. The panel's decision was based on the jury not being told about Michigan's longstanding ban on capital punishment. Gabrion was able to receive the death penalty because the body of his victim was found on federal land. The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will now hear the case. Rina Miller of Michigan Radio has this story.

Cold-Blooded Contract Killer Faces Death Penalty: Jack Dolan of the L.A. Times reports that on Thursday James Fayed, who was convicted earlier this year for the 2008 contract killing of his wife, was sentenced to death in Los Angeles County. Fayed received the death penalty for first-degree murder and 25 years to life for the conspiracy to commit murder. Fayed's attorney, Steve Meister, argued the futility of imposing the death sentence in California "where condemned inmates live for decades and many die of natural causes." The wife's brother said it is hard for family members to find complete peace with Fayed alive.

Massachusetts House Passes Habitual Offender Legislation: Benjamin Paulin of the Dover-Sherborn Patch reports that Massachusetts has passed legislation that modifies current laws governing cases of habitual criminals, giving them longer sentences. Under the new law repeat offenders will have to face 2/3 of their sentence as opposed to half before becoming eligible for parole. Habitual offender status is realized when an offender convicted of any two major crimes is convicted of a third major crime. Under the new law, upon the third offense the offender would be marked parole ineligible altogether and imprisoned for the maximum term provided by law.

DNA Evidence Solves 13-Year-Old Cold Case Murder Mystery: Thirteen years ago, ten-year-old Anna Palmer was found dead on the front porch of her Salt Lake City home with five stab wounds to the throat and a severely beaten body. There were no witnesses, and detectives did not find any obvious evidence or apparent suspects. In 2009 detectives turned to Sorenson Forensics, which determined "that fingernails from the victim would be something that might yield probative results." Palmer's fingernails were taken into the lab and tested. Sorenson Forensics was right. Analysts discovered DNA that belonged to Matthew Breck, who lived only a block away from the Palmers at the time of the murder. Breck was serving a 10-year sentence in Idaho for a sex-related crime involving a child when he was charged with the aggravated murder of Palmer. In August 2011 he was sentenced to life in prison. Sandra Yi from KSL (Utah) has this story.  


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