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Sonia Sotomayor casts first Supreme Court vote, supporting a stay of execution

The new justice joins a dissent by three liberals on the high court to halt the execution of Ohio hit man Jason Getsy. He's scheduled to die this morning by lethal injection.

August 19, 2009|David G. Savage

WASHINGTON — Newly seated Justice Sonia Sotomayor has cast her first recorded vote on the Supreme Court, joining three liberal justices in an unsuccessful effort to stop an execution in Ohio.

The full court turned down an appeal from lawyers for Jason Getsy late Monday evening by a 5-4 vote. Getsy, 33, a convicted hit man, was put to death by lethal injection Tuesday.

In a 1995 murder-for-hire plot, Getsy shot his intended target, Charles Serafino, seven times.

Serafino survived, but his mother, Ann Serafino, was killed in the shooting.

Getsy's lawyers argued he should be spared because other participants in the plot, including its architect, John Santine, did not receive the death penalty.

Last month, the Ohio Parole Board had recommended sparing Getsy's life on those grounds, but Gov. Ted Strickland disagreed Friday. He said the more lenient treatment given the other defendants did not call for sparing the life of the shooter.

The Supreme Court issued a two-line order Monday rejecting Getsy's plea for a stay of execution.

Justices John Paul Stevens, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen G. Breyer and Sotomayor dissented, saying they would have granted the appeal.

Sotomayor replaced Justice David H. Souter, who often voted with the court's liberal bloc to limit the use of the death penalty or to delay a pending execution.

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david.savage@latimes.com

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