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News Scan

Texas Inmate Granted Stay of Execution: The Associated Press reports less than one hour before being executed in Texas, the U.S. Supreme Court granted John Balentine his third stay of execution Wednesday. He had previously won reprieves from the U.S. Supreme Court last year and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in 2009. Balentine successfully argued his trial lawyer failed to present mitigating evidence that could have gotten him life in prison, such as emotional issues and a troubled childhood. Previous news scan here.  See also this post.

Three-Strikes Change On November Ballot:
Andy Furillo of the Sacramento Bee reports Proposition 36 seeks to change California's Three-Strikes law. The law grants judges the ability to impose a life sentence in any case where an offender has committed any third felony, as long as the two previous convictions were "serious" or "violent," terms which refers to specific lists of felonies in California law. It originally passed in 1994 with a 72% for and 28% against vote. Prop 36 would change the law by limiting it to criminals whose third felonies are serious or violent, with some exceptions. If Prop 36 passes, an estimated 3,000 of 8,873 3rd-strike inmates will be able to apply for re-sentencing hearings as of June 30. Sacramento County District Attorney Jan Scully opposes the change. Prop 36 will be on the November ballot.

Parole Denied 7th Time for Lennon's Shooter: The Associated Press reports Mark David Chapman was denied parole for the 7th time by a 3-member NY parole board. Chapman was convicted of 2nd-degree murder in the 1980 shooting of ex-Beatle John Lennon outside Lennon's apartment building, in front of his wife, Yoko Ono, and other witnesses. Chapman considered killing Johnny Carson or Elizabeth Taylor, but chose Lennon because he was more accessible. He believed by killing Lennon he would acquire his fame, and was sentenced to 20 years in prison after pleading guilty. Ono believes Chapman is a danger to her, her family, and himself and asked that he remain in prison. Chapman can file again for parole in 2014.

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