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News Scan

Utah To Bring Back Firing Squad:  In response to a global effort by death penalty opponents to restrict the availability of drugs used to euthanize condemned murderers, several states are considering alternative execution methods.  The Associated Press reports that the Utah Legislature has passed a bill that would reinstate the firing squad when execution drugs are not available.  Predictably, death penalty opponents characterized the proposal as a return to barbarism.  

Texas To Execute Gang Enforcer:  Convicted murderer Manuel Vasquez is scheduled for execution today in Texas for the 1998 killing of 51-year-old Juanita Ybarra.  Michael Graczyk of the Associated Press reports that Vasquez was carrying out a hit for the Mexican Mafia because Ybarra had refused to pay a drug tax to the gang.  Evidence introduced at trial indicates that Vasquez strangled the woman to death with a telephone cord.  Vasquez served two prior prison terms, one of which involved the beating of a man who died after he was set on fire.    

Murder Suspect Arrested In Mexico:  A habitual criminal suspected of the November 5, 2014 murder of his girlfriend in Northern California has been arrested in Mexico.  Cameron Macdonald of the Elk Grove Citizen reports that Moses Valdez fled to Mexico after the murder of Marissa Pineda De Almanza, a 37-year-old mother and Air Force Reservest.  Valdez, a gang member with a 20-year criminal record including a conviction for manslaughter, had been released from jail on "Post Release Community Supervision" (PRCS) prior to the murder.  PRCS is light supervision given to what California defines as "low level" offenders under Governor Jerry Brown's Public Safety Realignment law.  

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