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News Scan

Florida Murderer Executed:  The state of Florida executed a murderer Thursday using a new anesthetic, etomidate, in its three drug execution process.  Jason Dearen of the Associated Press reports that Mark Asay was sentenced to death for the 1987 murders of Robert Booker and Robert McDowell.  At the time of McDowell's murder, he was dressed as a female prostitute, whom Asay had hired, then killed when he learned McDowell's true gender.  A legal challenge to the use of etomidate, which defense attorneys claimed would cause pain, was rejected by the Florida Supreme Court earlier this month. The drug was a substitute for midazolam, which has become difficult to obtain after anti-death penalty groups pressured drug companies not to provide it for executions.  Asay's execution was uneventful.  He was unconscious in less than three minutes and pronounced dead eight minutes later. 

Commission Formed to Study CA Sentencing:  The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors has authorized the creation of a 27 member commission to study the impact of recently enacted California sentencing reforms on public safety.  Nina Agrawal of the Los Angeles Times reports that the Board's decision was in response to the February 20th murder of a Whittier police Officer by Michael Mejia, an ex-con who had repeatedly been arrested and released on probation under California's Public Safety Realignment law (AB109).  While opponents of the commission argued that a 2016 study by the San Francisco based Public Policy Institute found that Realignment did not cause increased crime, the Los Angeles County Sheriff and the Mayor of Whittier testified that crime has increased significantly because of that law.  After Officer Boyer's murder, the state's Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation claimed that AB109 was not a factor in keeping Mejia on the streets. That claim is disputed by those responsible for keeping track of him.  In addition to evaluating the impact of AB109, the commission will study the effect of Proposition 47, adopted in 2014 to downgrade property and drug felonies to misdemeanors, and Proposition 57, Governor Brown's ballot measure which dramatically expands parole eligibility for habitual felons and qualifies thousands of inmates for early release.     

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