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News Scan

Louisiana House Votes to Expand Death Penalty: Members of the Louisiana House overwhelmingly voted in favor of a bill that would make the murder of correctional worker punishable by death.  Lauren McGaughy of NOLA.com reports that House Bill 278 adds correctional facility employees to a list of first-degree murder victims, allowing prosecutors to pursue the death penalty or an automatic life without the possibility of parole sentence.  The bill, which was approved by a vote of 73-19, now heads to the Senate committee. 

Convicted Killer to get New Trial: Mississippi death row inmate Michelle Byrom, who was scheduled to be executed last week for the murder of her husband, will get a new trial after a rare ruling was made by the state's high court.  The Associated Press reports that attorneys for Byrom say they have new evidence in the case that points to her son being the killer, alleging that he even confessed to the crime during conversations with a forensic psychologist.  Byrom's son originally testified against her as part of a plea bargain, and was sentenced to 50 years in prison with 20 years suspended.

D.C. Mayor Signs Marijuana Decriminalization Bill: Washington D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray has signed a bill that decriminalizes possession of up to one ounce (28 grams) of marijuana in the nation's capital.  Ian Simpson of Reuters reports that the new law makes possession of marijuana a civil violation punishable by a $25 fine, possession used to be classified as a misdemeanor carrying up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.  The measure will now undergo a 60-day congressional review.

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