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Wyoming Lawmakers Push For Firing Squad: Several Wyoming senators say the time has come for the state to bring back the firing squad as a method of execution as an alternative or backup to lethal injection.  Cheryl K. Chumley of the Washington Times reports that the firing squad suggestion comes at a time when several pharmaceutical companies have scaled back or completely eliminated the production of lethal injection drugs due to pressures from anti-death penalty groups.  Utah offers the option of using a firing squad for inmates who are already on the state's death row, but not for those who have just been sentenced to death.

GA To Execute Convicted Killer: A Georgia man convicted of murdering an inmate more than two decades ago is set to be executed Tuesday evening.  Kate Brumback of the Associated Press reports that 54-year-old Warren Lee Hill was already serving a life sentence for the murder of his girlfriend when he beat a fellow inmate to death in 1990.  If the execution is carried out as scheduled, Hill will become the second death row inmate executed by the state of Georgia so far this year.

Bill Increases Penalties For Crimes Against Children: A New Mexico lawmaker is gathering support for a bill that would increase penalties for people convicted of sex crimes against children and make it easier to prosecute them.  The Associated Press reports that the bill would increase prison time from 6 to 15 years for those convicted of coercing children between the ages of 13-18 to submit to sexual penetration.  The bill would also change the definition of the crime by excluding a requirement that the victim must have suffered a 'personal injury' such as pregnancy, chronic pain, or mental anguish. 

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Bill Would Increase Punishment for Violent Crime: A bill introduced by Indiana Senator Brandt Hershman would allow prosecutors to seek the death penalty in cases involving murders committed on college campuses.  The Purdue Exponent reports that Senator Hershman hopes that by adding school shootings to the list of crimes punishable by death, it will deter future tragedies from happening on Indiana school campuses.  The bill may be heard by the states Senate Committee as early as next week.

House To Vote On Border Security Bill: A bill to secure the U.S. border with Mexico will be voted on by the House early next week.  The Associated Press reports that the bill, which would increase the use of drones, surveillance systems, and other forms of security technology at the border, already passed the House Committee on Homeland Security Wednesday evening by a vote of 18-12.  The bill would also mandate that operational control areas, which are designed to prevent illegal border crossings, be placed at high-traffic border spots within two years and along the entire border within five years.  

Convicted Felon Targeted In Cold Case Killings: An Oregon man, currently serving time behind bars for attempted murder, will  be extradited to California to face murder charges after DNA evidence linked him to two cold case killings.  Veronica Rocha of the Los Angeles Times reports that 66-year-old Rodney Halbower is accused of raping and murdering two women in Northern California nearly 40 years ago.  If found guilty, Halbower faces a minimum sentence of life without the possibility of parole.

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Federal Charges Unlikely in Ferguson Case: Lawyers with the U.S. Justice Department are expected to recommend that no civil rights charges be brought against Ferguson, MO police officer Darren Wilson.  Matt Apuzzo and Michael S. Schmidt of the New York Times report that an investigation conducted by the FBI found that there was no evidence to support civil rights charges against Wilson in the shooting death of Michael Brown in August 2014.  Attorney General Eric Holder and his civil rights chief will have the final say on whether or not the Justice Department will close the case against Wilson. 

NY Assembly Speaker Arrested On Corruption Charges: New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver has been taken into custody and will face criminal charges after authorities say he pocketed millions in a corruption scheme.  The New York Daily News reports that Silver, who is facing five counts of corruption, allegedly accepted $4 million in bribes and kickbacks from a variety of firms seeking his political influence in Albany, New York.  Each count against Silver carries a maximum of 20 years behind bars.  

FL Supreme Court Upholds Death Sentence: Florida's highest court has upheld the death sentence for a man convicted of brutally murdering a woman he met on Craigslist in 2010.  Larry Hannan of The Florida Times-Union reports that 23-year-old David Sparre tortured the woman and stabbed her nearly 100 times, admitting to police that he took pleasure in it and killed her for "the rush."  During trial, Sparre instructed his attorney not to present any evidence on his behalf, an issue Sparre's appeals attorney claimed was a violation of his rights.

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AK Considers Labeling Human Traffickers As Sex Offenders:  The Arkansas Legislature is considering a bill that would require criminals who engage in human trafficking or those who engage in sex with a human trafficking victim to register as sex offenders. Elicia Dover of KATV reports that the bill's author, Senator Jim Woods, believes that that the requirement would help law enforcement keep track of criminals convicted of these crimes.  

The Risks Cops Take:  Many who are demanding body cameras on police officers in the wake of the Michael Brown shooting may not like the idea so much when those cameras show the danger that officers face while trying to protect the public.  Case in point: Matt Pearce of The Los Angeles Times reports on the body camera video of a suspect shooting and killing a young Flagstaff, AZ police officer during routine questioning.  Like existing dashcams and DNA evidence, bodycams are going to help convict 99% of the suspects police officers confront, while reminding the rest of us how dangerous it is to be a cop.

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No Charges Filed In Shooting Of OK Police Chief: The Oklahoma man accused of shooting a police chief multiple times during an attempted arrest last week likely will not face any criminal charges.  CBS News reports that a man claiming to be Dallas Horton called 911 Thursday morning to report a bomb threat at a local elementary school.  When officers responded to his home, Horton fired several shots-hitting the police chief three times in the chest and once in the arm.  Horton claims that he didn't know that the police had entered his home and that he was unable to hear them identify themselves.

TX Set to Execute Triple-Murderer: A Texas man sentenced to death for a triple-murder more than two decades ago set to be executed by lethal injection Wednesday evening.  Michelle Casady of My San Antonio reports that 41-year-old Arnold Prieto was convicted of robbing and stabbing to death three elderly people in 1993.  Two of the victims happened to be his great uncle and great aunt.  Another man charged in the killings was 17-years-old at the time of the crime and was ordered to spend the rest of his life behind bars.

Supreme Court Sides With Bearded Muslim Inmate: In a unanimous ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of allowing a Muslim prisoner incarcerated in Arkansas to grow a short beard for religious purposes.  The Associated Press reports that the court decided that Gregory Holt, who is serving a life sentence for brutally attacking his girlfriend, will be allowed to maintain a half-inch beard while incarcerated.  Prior to the ruling, Arkansas prison officials had prevented Holt from growing a beard citing security concerns.  


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FL Governor Sets Execution Date: A Florida man convicted of murdering four people will be executed late next month after spending 30 years on death row.  Gal Tziperman Lotan of the Orlando Sentinel reports that 59-year-old Jerry Correll was found guilty in 1985 for the stabbing deaths of his ex-wife, five-year-old daughter, mother-in-law, and sister-in-law.  Correll exhausted all of his appeals in February 2014, he is scheduled to be executed February 26.

Law Allows Killers To Escape Prosecution: Police in New Mexico are urging reform on the state's 6 year statute of limitations for second degree murder, which one state legislator hopes to change later this year.  Emily Younger of KRQE News reports that under current New Mexico law, the 6 year limit has allowed admitted killers to get away with murder.  The issue has been brought to state legislators twice before, and both times, proposed legislation died in a Senate committee hearing.  New Mexico is the only state in the union that has a statute of limitation for second-degree murder.

OK Bill Targets Inmate Behavior: Oklahoma Senator Wayne Shaw has introduced legislation to improving inmate behavior in state correctional facilities and possibly reduce the prison population.  Barbara Hoberock of Tulsa World reports that the bill would allow inmates convicted of crimes requiring them to serve at least 85% of their sentence to start earning early release credits at the beginning of their sentence rather than the end.  Shaw believes this incentive will encourage better behavior from the start of a criminal's sentence.  Under current state law, offenders required to serve a minimum of 85% of their sentence include those convicted of murder, child pornography, human trafficking, and rape.


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DNA Evidence Leads to Cold Case Arrest: Authorities in Texas have revealed that recently tested DNA evidence has resulted in the arrest of a suspect in a double-murder that occurred more than 30 years ago.  The Associated Press reports that the suspect, 57-year-old Edmond Degan, is accused of sexually assaulting and murdering two adult sisters in Houston in 1984.  Degan has a lengthy criminal past and has been convicted of a variety of felonies including aggravated robbery, assault, and making terrorist threats.    

NJ Bill Would Improve Megan's Law: A New Jersey assemblyman is sponsoring a bill to strengthen Megan's Law.  Kevin McArdle of New Jersey 1015 reports that the bill would add a sex offender's employment address and information about their school enrollment.  The bill also requires public notification whenever an offender can not be located or has violated registration requirements.  Additionally, information about all registered sex offenders would be available online.  Currently, only information about high and moderate-risk offenders is available to the public.   

Too Much Pot In Washington: Licensed marijuana growers in Washington state have too much pot and not enough buyers.  Dispensary owners are worried they may be put out of business.  Gene Johnson of the Associated Press reports that the majority of the state's marijuana users prefer buying untaxed pot sold from black market dealers or unregulated marijuana dispensaries.  The state estimates that less than 20% of the 31,000 pounds of marijuana harvested last year was sold in regulated pot shops, leaving dispensaries with too much marijuana and not enough revenue to keep the shops running.

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CA High Court Denies Killer's Appeal: The California Supreme Court has refused to hear the appeal of a man convicted of murdering a woman during a botched robbery attempt in 2009.  City News Service reports that attorneys for convicted killer Michael Bonfiglio appealed their client's life sentence based on the claim that there wasn't enough evidence to support the special circumstance allegation that the victim was killed during a robbery-which in California, results in an automatic life sentence.  Bonfiglio, along with two other men, shot the young woman to death in order to steal her laptop.  All three men were sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. 

Prop 47 to Blame for Recent Crime Increase: Law enforcement officials in Fresno, CA believe that the recent increase in crime in their county is a direct response to last November's passage of Proposition 47, which reclassified several property and drug crimes from felonies to misdemeanors.  John Ellis of the Fresno Bee reports that prior to the passage of Prop 47, auto theft was down 26% in Fresno County, it has since increased by 7.8% in November and 9.8% in December, a trend that is worrisome to law enforcement officials.  Along with auto theft, rates of burglary and other property crime in Fresno County have also seen a recent increase.

FL, OK set to Execute Convicted Killers: Two condemned killers, one in Florida and the other in Oklahoma, are scheduled for  execution this evening after spending decades on death row.  Jon Herskovitz and Bill Cotterell of Reuters report that Florida inmate, 42-year-old Johnny Kormondy, was sentenced to death in 1993 for murdering a banker and sexually assaulting the man's wife during a home invasion.  Oklahoma's death row inmate, Charles Warner, will be executed for the rape and murder of a young child.


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GA Executes Murderer: A Georgia man who was sentenced to death for the murder of a police officer in 1998 was executed for his crime Tuesday evening.  The Associated Press reports that 66-year-old Andrew Brannan shot and killed the sheriff's deputy after he was pulled over for speeding on a Georgia interstate, video of the incident shows Brannan engaging in a physical confrontation with the officer before shooting him nearly a dozen times.  Brannan's attorneys argued that their client suffers from mental illness due to his service in the military, but the state's high court upheld his conviction and denied a stay of execution.

MS Cops Questioning Length of Sentencing: The recent arrest of a shooting suspect, who happens to have a lengthy criminal history, has some law enforcement officers in Mississippi questioning if inmates are being released from prison too early.  Jonathan Brannan of WLOX News reports that a law that went into effect last July reduced the minimum time violent offenders spend behind bars to half of their sentence, and allows non-violent offenders to serve just a quarter of their sentences.  The law, adopted to make the state justice system more efficient and less expensive, has allowed the early release of dozens of serious criminals to commit more crime.  

TX Death Row Inmate Loses Appeal: A Texas man on death row for the murders of two police officers in 2007 has lost his most recent appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, bringing him one step closer to execution.  Reagan Roy of KETK News reports that Randall Mays challenged his death sentence and impending execution based on the claim that he is mentally handicapped, making him ineligible for execution.  Mays is scheduled to be executed March 18, 2015.

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Cop Killer's Appeal Before NH Supreme Court: New Hampshire's highest court will hear argument in the case of a man sentenced to death for the 2006 murder of a officer Michael Briggs.  Lynne Tuohy of the Associated Press reports that for the first time, the state's Supreme Court will be examining whether or not the death sentence was fair compared to similar cases around the country.   Defendant Michael Addison is black and officer Briggs was white, a factor Addison believes contributed to his death sentence.   

MI To Collect DNA Samples Of Arrested Felons: Michigan Governor Rick Snyder has signed legislation that will allow police to collect a DNA sample at the time of arrest for all felonies.  WNDU News reports that the legislation will improve public by helping to identify repeat violent criminals earlier on in the investigation process.  DNA samples will only be sent in for testing where the individual is being arraigned, 28 other states have similar legislation that allows for DNA to be taken from felony suspects upon arrest.

Mexican Drug Cartels Flood U.S. With Heroin, Meth: According to recent drug seizure statistics, Mexican drug cartels are now smuggling increased amounts of heroin and methamphetamine across the U.S. border, a problem experts believe in large part is due to states which have decriminalized marijuana.  Nick Miroff of the Washington Post reports that with many states now selling legalized marijuana, the demand for lower quality marijuana smuggled into the US has fallen. In response drug cartels are switching to smuggling cheap heroin and meth.  The Drug Enforcement Agency estimates that 90% of the meth in the U.S. today was cooked in Mexico-where the chemicals to make it are far easier to obtain.   

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Oklahoma To Resume Executions: The state of Oklahoma has announced its plans to carry out its first execution since last April's difficult execution of convicted killer Clayton Lockett.  Parker Perry of McAlester News-Capital reports that 47-year-old Charles Warner was originally scheduled to be executed the same evening as Lockett, but his execution was postponed after Lockett's execution was deemed problematic.  Warner, who was sentenced to death in 1997 for the rape and murder of an 11-month-old girl, is scheduled to be executed Thursday evening.

Legislature to Introduce Sex Crime Bills: Montana's House Judiciary is set to discuss two bills to better protect citizens from sex offenders.  KBZK News reports that one of the bills would create a sex offender prosecution unit at the state's Department of Justice. That unit would be allowed to prosecute crimes when local authorities lack the ability or funding to do so themselves.  The other bill, House bill 88, would require judges, rather than sex offenders, to choose who evaluates them.   It would also require  that registered sex offenders disclose their email addresses and social media screen names to authorities.

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Ohio to Change Execution Protocol: Officials in Ohio have announced their plan to drop its current two-drug execution method and switch to a different protocol, requiring a delay to an upcoming execution.  Andrew Welsh-Huggins of the Associated Press reports that Ohio will now use thiopental sodium for future executions-a move that death penalty opponents immediately questioned because foreign manufacturers refuse to sell it to U.S buyers.  Ohio was set to execute convicted child killer Ronald Phillips early next month.  

Repeat Offender Arrested on Drug, Weapons Charges: A California man with a lengthy criminal history is behind bars once again after authorities say he illegally sold drugs, weapons, and stolen cars.  Corin Hoggard of ABC 30 reports that 46-year-old William McPhederain a documented member of the Aryan Brotherhood, has been in and out of police custody since the age of 16 on a variety of felony charges.  McPhederain is no stranger to police, just a few months ago, he was held in county jail for just one day after being arrested on nine felony weapon and drug charges- a common occurrence in over-crowded county jails across the state due to Realignment.

PA Grand Jury Recommends Charging Attorney General: A Pennsylvania grand jury has recommended that criminal charges be filed against Attorney General Kathleen Kane amid allegations that she leaked secret information to newspapers in an attempt to embarrass political rivals.  The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that Kane allegedly leaked grand jury information anonymously. If the allegations are proven to be true, Kane could face charges for contempt of court and up to six months behind bars.  The District Attorney from Montgomery County will review all of the evidence and make a decision on whether or not to prosecute the Attorney General.    

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Repeat Felon Accused of Murder: Police in Northern California say the man accused of carjacking a woman and shooting her dead earlier this week is 41-year-old convicted felon Anderson Swift.  Peter Hecht and Marissa Lang of the Sacarmento Bee report that Swift approached two women as they left a restaurant Tuesday evening and demanded they hand over their car keys, the women attempted to flee and run back to the restaurant, but Swift fired off several rounds leaving one of them dead.  Swift is currently being held in county jail on charges of murder, carjacking, and being a felon in possession of a handgun.   

Cop Killer Granted Stay of Execution: A Pennsylvania man convicted of killing a police officer nearly two decades ago has been granted a stay of execution just hours before he was scheduled to be put to death.  Kelly Bayliss of NBC Philadelphia reports that 45-year-old Christopher Roney was sentenced to death in 1996 after authorities say he shot and killed a police officer during a botched bank robbery attempt.  Two of Roney's co-defendants confessed to the crime and identified Roney as the shooter.  This is the second time he has been granted a stay.

Habitual Sex Offender Accused of Rape: A New York man with a lengthy criminal past and prior convictions for rape is behind bars once again after authorities say he raped and impregnated an 11-year-old girl.  Lisa Fogarty of Opposing Views reports that 52-year-old Jacky Berry, who has been a registered sex offender since 1990, allegedly had sexual contact with the young girl on several occasions over the course of four years.  A DNA test was performed on the victim's baby after it was born and police confirmed Berry was the father.  Berry is in county jail facing charges of felony predatory sexual assault against a child.  If convicted, he faces a life sentence in prison.


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Teen Accused of Murder While on 'Day Pass' from Juvenile Hall: Police in Stockton, CA report that a teen accused of murdering a man Sunday afternoon was on a weekend pass from juvenile hall.  News 10 Sacramento reports that the juvenile detention center allows inmates to go home for the weekend in order to work on homework and build relationships with their family. They are prohibited from hanging out with friends and are required to be accompanied by their parent or guardian at all times.  The teen, along with another juvenile accomplice, now face charges of felony robbery and murder.

Murderer Sentenced to Life Without Parole: A Michigan man convicted of raping and murdering his girlfriend's five-year-old niece has been sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole (LWOP).  The Associated Press reports that 23-year-old Darnell Cheatham kidnapped the young girl from her home in July 2011 and raped her before strangling her and setting her body on fire in a vacant house.  LWOP is the most severe sentence available under Michigan law.  

Parolee Tied to Recent NYPD Shooting: A habitual criminal in New York, on parole for robbery, has been linked to Monday night's shooting of two NYPD officers.  The New York Daily News reports that 28-year-old Joseph Kemp and 24-year-old Jason Polanco were allegedly involved in an armed robbery of a grocery store Monday evening.  When officers arrived, Polanco fired off several rounds, wounding his accomplice and two police officers.  Both men have had several encounters with police in the past, and have been convicted of a variety of charges including robbery, weapons possession, and disorderly conduct.

Violent Crime Up In Los Angeles:  For the first time in 12 years the rate of violent crime has increased in Los Angeles, in some cases dramatically.   Joel Rubin and Ben Poston of The Los Angeles Times report that in 2014 he city suffered a 12% increase in violent crime compared to 2013, with aggravated assaults, typically attacks with a weapon resulting in serious injury, up over 24%.  These higher numbers follow an investigation last summer which found that the city had missclassified nearly 1,200 serious and violent crimes as low level offenses.  Does Realignment have anything to do with this? 

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Parolee Charged With Murder: A Pennsylvania man recently released on parole has been charged with murder.  Brett Hambright of the Lancaster Online reports that 20-year-old Stefon Landing was paroled three weeks prior to his most recent arrest after reaching a plea deal that gave him credit for time served (roughly five months in jail) and 18 months on parole for a felony robbery and illegal gun possession.  Police believe Landing shot and killed another man Sunday afternoon after a drug deal went bad.

Execution Date for Cop Killer:  Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens has announced that the state is set to execute Andrew Howard, a man convicted of murdering a police officer in 1998.  The Valdosta Today reports that Howard shot and killed Deputy Sheriff Kyle Dinkheller, 22, in 1998,
Deputy Sheriff Kyle Dinkheller, 22, in 1998.
Deputy Sheriff Kyle Dinkheller, 22, in 1998.
during a routine traffic stop.  Howard said that the officer wasn't showing him a 'sufficient amount of respect.'  Howard's execution will take place at 7:00 pm on January 13.   

Paroled Kidnapper Accused in Recent Abduction: An Oklahoma man who served time in prison for a kidnapping conviction a few years ago, is behind bars again after police arrested him for abducting a 4-year-old boy.  Dave Detling of KOCO News reports that 56-year-old Gregory White allegedly kidnapped the young boy from his home and kept the child for 6 hours before dropping him off at a local convenience store.  White was convicted of kidnapping and beating his ex-girlfriend in 2008 and sentenced to 12 years in prison. It is unclear when he was released from prison.

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