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News Scan

Trial Judge Throws out Death Sentence: Steve Miletich of the Seattle Times reports that on Thursday in Washington a judge denied a prosecution motion to seek death sentences for Michele Anderson and ex-boyfriend Joseph McEnroe. Anderson and McEnroe have been charged with six counts of aggravated murder each in the brutal slayings of Anderson's parents, 60 and 61, brother and sister-in-law, both 32, her niece, 5, and three-year-old nephew. The victims were shot to death at her parents' Washington home on Christmas Eve 2007. The ruling rejecting the death penalty rests on a 13-page order from Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Ramsdell who asserted that the prosecution should only consider a death sentence if mitigating circumstances, not the strength of evidence, are a factor. The prosecution has described the decision as having blindsided them, and as wrong. They not only cite concerns for justice for the victims, but also the potential impact on other aggravated murder cases. They promised to appeal.

OR Convicts Attempted Car Bomber in Terrorism Plot: Kirk Johnson of The New York Times reports that on Thursday, Mohamed Osman Mohamud, 21, was convicted of attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction in Oregon. In 2010, he was arrested in an F.B.I. sting operation targeting Islamic terrorism. Mohamud attempted to set off what he believed to be a car bomb at a Christmas tree lighting ceremony in downtown Portland. Had the bomb been real, about 25,000 people would have been packed into its blast area. After a day of deliberation, the jury rejected Mohamud's claim of entrapment. Mohamud faces a maximum sentence of life in prison and will be sentenced by Senior Judge Garr M. King on May 14. Continued from this News Scan.

Death Sentence for Rapist, Murderer: CBS News reports that Miami-Dade Circuit Judge William Thomas has sentenced Joel Lebron to death for the first-degree murder of Ana Maria Angel, 18. In April 2002, Lebron, with the aid of four accomplices, kidnapped, gang raped, and fatally shot Angel execution-style. Her boyfriend, 17-year-old  Nelson Portobanco, who was left for dead by the assailants after having his throat slit, survived the assault and contacted police. In a case that Judge Thomas described as having clear and convincing aggravating circumstances, the Judge was visibly upset as he recounted the crime and sentenced Lebron to death, stating that Lebron's actions required "the ultimate penalty." In addition to the death penalty, Lebron was sentenced to six consecutive life terms for armed robbery and kidnapping, attempted first-degree murder, and armed sexual battery. The victim's mother expressed a sense of justice and relief at the Judge's decision. Lebron will be held in Florida State Prison until the date of his execution.

CA Murder Dies on Death Row: Sam Stanton of the Sacramento Bee reports James Leslie Karis Jr., a convicted murderer and rapist was found dead in his cell on San Quentin's death row Thursday.  Karis, 61, was found unresponsive and pronounced dead at 6:40 a.m. An autopsy will be conducted to determine cause of death. Karis was convicted of the rape and murder of Peggy Pennington, 34, and sentenced to death in September 1982. In July 1981, Karis abducted Pennington and another woman, 27, while walking near their workplace. Karis took them to a secluded area, forced them to strip, raped Pennington, then shot both women. The other woman survived the attack and testified against Karis in court.  Karis was given the death sentence twice.  After a federal judge overturned Karis' death sentence in 1998, hee was then tried again in 2007. During the second trial, Karis rebuffed his lawyers' attempts to introduce mitigating evidence and took over his own defense. The second jury also sentenced Karis to death. 

OH Murderer Seeks Clemency: Andrew Welsh-Huggins of the Associated Press reports the lawyers for condemned killer Frederick Treesh asked Ohio's parole board for a recommendation of clemency Thursday. Treesh, 48, and a co-defendant are accused of bank robbery, robbery of businesses, multiple sexual assaults, car theft, and car-jacking in a crime spree that stretched through Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. Treesh received the death sentence in Ohio for the murder of Henry Dupree. Two days prior, Treesh and his accomplices murdered another victim at a Michigan video store. The parole board will make their recommendation for or against clemency next week. Ohio Gov. John Kasich has the final say. If denied, Treesh will face execution on March 6.

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