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News Scan

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Second Death Sentence in South Dakota Prison Guard Killing: The Associated Press reports Rodney Berget was sentenced to death Monday in South Dakota for killing prison guard Ronald "R.J." Johnson during a failed escape attempt. His accomplice, Eric Robert, was also sentenced to death in October for the killing. Berget is currently serving life sentences for attempted murder and kidnapping, and prosecutors said he had tried to escape several times before. Prosecutors said Berget and Robert bashed Johnson's head with a pipe and covered his mouth with plastic wrap. Robert then put on the guard's uniform and Berget hid inside a large box that Robert carted with him toward the prison gate before both inmates were apprehended. South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley said Berget's execution should take place in six to eight months. Robert's execution is scheduled for May.    

Norway Mass Killer Says He Deserves Medal of Honor:
Bjoern H. Amland of the Associated Press reports Anders Behring Breivik, who confessed to a bombing and mass shooting that killed 77 people in Norway last July, told a court Monday he deserves a medal of honor and demanded to be set free. This was his last scheduled detention hearing before the trial begins in April. Breivik will remain in custody until then. He faces up to 21 years in prison for terror charges. If he is found criminally insane, he will be sent to psychiatric care. His defense lawyer suggested Breivik's comments on Monday were a preview for what's to come in the trial.

Judge Temporarily Blocks Mississippi Execution:
The Associated Press reports a federal judge on Monday temporarily blocked the execution of Edwin Hart Turner in Mississippi. Turner was scheduled to be executed Wednesday for killing two men during a gas station robbery spree in 1995. His attorney's asked for the order, arguing that Turner was prevented from getting medical tests that could prove he is mentally ill - a diagnosis they hope will sway the U.S. Supreme Court to block Turner's execution and the execution of others with mental illnesses. Turner's lawyers also want the tests done so the information could be included as part of a clemency petition to Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant. U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves in Jackson blocked the execution until February 20. Turner's lawyers can seek a longer stay in the meantime. 

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Another day, another last-minute stay by a federal judge. Yet another example why federal courts need to be completely out of the state execution business.

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