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News Scan

Accused Boston Bomber Wants Charges Dismissed: Attorneys for accused Boston Marathon bombing suspect, 20-year-old Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, are arguing to have multiple charges against him dropped, saying a majority of them are repetitive and that the number of charges could influence jurors when deciding whether or not he should be sentenced to death.  Denise Lavoie of the Associated Press reports that more than half of the 30 federal charges brought against Tsarnaev carry a possible death sentence.  Opening statements in the trial are set to begin November 3.

Supreme Court Debates IQ Testing in Death Penalty Case: Supreme Court justices are set to hear arguments today on whether Freddie Lee Hall is "smart enough" to be executed.  Michael Doyle of McClatchy Newspapers reports that Hall, who was convicted of a double murder nearly 40 years ago, has an IQ that hovers in the low 70's, prompting his attorneys to claim he is mentally retarded and therefor unable to be executed.  A 2002 Supreme Court ruling barred states from executing mentally retarded murderers and, until now, has left it up to the state to decide the standards qualifying a defendant as mentally disabled.  The Court's decision on the matter is expected to come this June.  Nina Totenberg of NPR also has an article reporting on the case.

Murder Trial Begins for Olympic Sprinter: Opening testimony began today in a South African courtroom for the murder trial against Olympic sprinter and amputee track star Oscar Pistorius.  The Associated Press reports that 27-year-old Pistorius is on trial for the murder of his girlfriend in February 2013 and has pled not guilty.  Pistorius claims that the killing was accidental and a result of mistaken identity.  His fate is in the hands of the presiding judge, as South Africa has no trial by jury.  If  convicted, he faces a possible life sentence.

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