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News Scan

CA Death Sentence Overturned: The Associated Press reports the death sentence for Douglas Stankewitz was overturned 2-1 by a 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals three judge panel. Stankewitz was convicted of murdering a woman in Fresno in 1978 and is California's longest serving death row inmate. According to Judge Raymond C. Fisher, Stankewitz may not have been sentenced to death had the jury known about the abuse he endured as a child in his home and his drug use before murdering his victim. Judge O'Scannlain dissented.  He believes the record is insufficient to conclude that there is a reasonable probability the result would have been different, and he would remand for an evidentiary hearing. The decision is here.

CA Felon Charged With Triple Murder: The Associated Press reports convicted felon Jade Douglas Harris was charged with a triple homicide in Los Angeles Monday. Harris went to a family business Wednesday in response to an ad about a car for sale. He allegedly shot two employees to death, and shot the mother of the business's owners in the face.  She survived. Harris then had the owner's sister-in-law and her 13-year-old son drive them to the home where the car was located. Harris threatened the boy, and his mother jumped in and pushed Harris. He fatally shot her.  He also shot the boy in the arm. He was charged with three counts of homicide, two counts of attempted murder, three counts of kidnapping for carjacking, three carjacking counts, two kidnapping counts, and one count of possessing a firearm as a felon. He was also charged with the special circumstances of murder while lying in wait, killing a witness to a crime, and murder in the commission of both a kidnapping and carjacking. Harris was previously convicted of robbery, attempted robbery and carrying a concealed weapon. Prosecutors will decide whether to pursue the death penalty in the case.

CA Couple Go On Crime Spree After Jail Escape: Malaika Fraley of the Contra Costa Times reports Darnell and Tania Washington have been charged with the October 5 murder of a retired teacher in Contra Costa County, east of San Francisco. The Washingtons' crime spree began after Tania helped her husband escape from San Bernardino County Jail, in Southern California, on August 28. He was awaiting trial on charges of robbery, and has been previously convicted of carjacking and robbery in Los Angeles. Darnell shot and wounded a Los Angeles County Sheriff's deputy five days later and avoided being captured. The couple fled to the San Francisco Bay area, where they drove a stolen truck and stole a hacksaw from a Kmart, fighting off two employees who tried to stop them. The charges allege Darnell then entered the home of his victim with a knife and shotgun, and fatally stabbed her. The couple then fled to Washington State, led police on a high-speed chase in the victim's car, and rammed a police vehicle. Darnell was extradited on Sunday, and Tania's extradition is pending. Darnell will go to court for plea entry on November 8.

CA Prison Recidivism Down Second Year: Don Thompson of the Associated Press reports California prison parolee recidivism has dropped for the second year in a row, 4 percent in the last two years. A study which was released Monday claims that the Correctional Offender Management Profiling for Alternative Sanctions program seems to be working. The program evaluates the risk a convicted felon has of committing a new crimes and helps prison officials provide extra supervision and rehabilitation for those inmates who need it prior to release. About 74,000, or 64 percent, of the 116,000 inmates placed on parole in the state reoffended despite the program.

CA Prison on Medical Lockdown, Chickenpox:
CBS San Francisco reports an outbreak of chickenpox at California's San Quentin Prison prompted a medical lockdown. All programs and visits were cancelled last weekend. Prison medical staff is still working to determine how many inmates became infected. Officials have not stated when the prison will be resume normal operations.

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