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News Scan

Murder Sparks Call For Tougher Penalties in Iowa: State lawmakers in Iowa will consider enhanced penalties for kidnapping and other crimes in response to a case involving Kathlynn Shepard, a 15-year-old girl who was kidnapped and murdered by a convicted sex offender who had been released from prison early.  William Petroski of the Des Moines Register reports that House Study Bill 501 increases the mandatory sentence for kidnapping from 10 years to 25 years if the victim is 15 years old or younger, and eliminates good time credit for conviction of certain crimes.  Outrage about the Shepard murder increased when the public learned that her killer, a registered sex offender, was released without supervision after serving less than half of a 41 year sentence for two previous kidnappings.  

Florida Killer's Sentence may be Reduced: 25-year-old Ashley Toye, serving a life without parole (LWOP) sentence for a murder committed at the age of 17, may be released from prison early after a judge ruled she qualified for re sentencing.  Laura Roberts of NBC 2 reports that Toye, one of 10 people charged in the brutal murder of two brothers in 2006, was sentenced to LWOP after being found guilty of first-degree murder, aggravated kidnapping, torture, and other felony charges.  Toye's attorney appealed her sentenced after a 2012 Supreme Court ruling in Miller v. Alabama announced that state laws which require LWOP for juveniles are unconstitutional.  Toye will still have to serve the mandatory 25 year sentence for the kidnapping which was not effected by the Miller ruling.

Smith & Wesson to End Sales in CA: Gun maker Smith & Wesson has announced it will no longer sell semi-automatic handguns in California due to new microstamping requirements that went into effect in 2013.  Awr Hawkins of Breitbart reports that microstamping requires gun manufacturers to equip each firearm with a costly special firing pin that leaves a unique fingerprint on every bullet fired, a process that would be expensive to both the manufacturer and the consumer.  Microstamping, which is virtually another form of gun registry, is still a relatively new concept and has yet to be proven to be a reliable form of identification.  

Virginia House Votes to Revive Electric Chair: Virginia lawmakers, facing a shortage of available lethal injection drugs, are one step closer to making the electric chair the default method of execution.  Fox News reports that since 1995, when the state began allowing inmates to choose their method of execution, only six of the 85 prisoners put to death chose electrocution over lethal injection.  Virginia is one of only six states that still authorizes use of the electric chair, and in each of the six states, it is only used if requested by an inmate.  

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