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GA Court Stays Another Execution:  Rhonda Cook of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that the Georgia Court of Appeals issued a stay in the execution of Andrew Cook on Wednesday, while it considers Cook's claim that a doctor's prescription is needed for the prison pharmacy to allocate the lethal injection drug pentobarbital. Cook was sentenced to death for fatally shooting two college students chosen at random in 1995. If the court lifts the stay by Feb. 28, Cook could be executed within weeks. This story is further discussed in this News Scan.

FL Bill Would Make Gang Membership an Aggravating Circumstance:  Walter C. Jones of the Morris News Service reports that Florida Rep. Barry Fleming introduced a bill Wednesday that would add gang membership as an aggravating circumstance in death penalty cases. He hopes the bill will bring attention to the growing problem of gang violence. According to Fleming, as much as 90% of crime is gang related.

Japan Executes 3 Killers:  The Associated Press reports that three murderers were hung Thursday in Japan. The executions are the first under Japan's new administration, which took office last December. Al Jazeera News reports that the executed were Kaoru Kobayashi, 44, Masahiro Kanagawa, 29, and Keiki Muto, 62.  Kobayashi kidnapped, sexually assaulted, and killed a 7-year-old girl in 2004. He sent a photograph of the victim's body to her mother. The girl was found dumped in a gutter.  Kanagawa killed one and wounded seven in a knife attack in Tokyo in 2008. He murdered another man the same year.  Muto robbed and strangled a bar owner in 2002. Polls show that the majority of the Japanese public support the death sentence despite criticism by the European Union and human rights groups.

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