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News Scan

Stay of Execution Issued for Arizona Inmate: Michael Kiefer of Arizona Republic News reports the Arizona Supreme Court late on Tuesday stayed today's scheduled execution of Samuel Lopez, who was sentenced to death in 1987. Lopez was convicted of first-degree murder, kidnapping, two counts of sexual assault, and burglary in the 1986 killing of 59-year-old Estefana Holmes. The victim was found gagged and blindfolded in her apartment. She had been raped, sodomized, and stabbed more than 20 times before Lopez slit her throat. A new execution date was set for June 27 to allow issues raised about recent appointments to the state's clemency board to be worked out. 

Gang Member Convicted of Murder After DNA Match: Richard Winton of the Los Angeles Times reports Kevin Bernard Smith Jr., 36, a Rolling 20s gang member whose moniker is "Jazzy," was convicted this week in the 1994 murder of a man and attempted murder of the man's wife after DNA linked him to the crime scene. Smith was convicted of first-degree murder with the special circumstance allegations that the murder was committed during the course of a burglary and robbery in the 1994 killing of 73-year-old Rupert "Rudy" Thompson. Smith was also convicted of the premeditated attempted murder of Thompson's wife. Two bloodstains from the crime scene were matched to Smith through the state DNA database. At the time, Smith was serving a prison sentence in Mississippi on an unrelated drug sales charge.

Judge Grants Class Action Status to NY Frisk Suit: Larry Neumeister of the Associated Press reports U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin in Manhattan on Wednesday granted class action status to a 2008 lawsuit that accuses the NYPD of discriminating against blacks and Hispanics with its stop-and-frisk policies. The lawsuit claims the police department purposefully concentrated its stop-and-frisk activity on black and Hispanic neighborhoods based on their racial composition, and that officers are pressured to meet quotas as part of the program. Mayor Michael Bloomberg said, "Nobody should ask [Police Commissioner] Ray Kelly to apologize -- he's not going to and neither am I -- for saving 5,600 lives. And I think it's fair to say that stop, question and frisk has been an essential part of the NYPD's work; it's taken more than 6,000 guns off the streets in the last eight years, and this year we are on pace to have the lowest number of murders in recorded history. ... We're not going to do anything that undermines that trend and threatens public safety."

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