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In Louisiana, legally 'dead' man could face death penalty

April 09, 2012|By Richard Fausset

Atlanta — In Alexandria, La., prosecutors may soon decide to pursue the death penalty for a man named Thomas Steven Sanders, who is now sitting in a jail cell even though he was declared legally dead years ago.

According to a CBS/AP story, Sanders' family asked a Mississippi judge to have him declared legally dead in 1994 so his kids could receive death benefits. Holbrook Mohr of the Associated Press reported that Sanders had abandoned the family in 1987.

But Sanders was unquestionably alive, living and working at odd jobs across four southeastern states and Nevada, and reportedly racking up a number of traffic tickets and a sentencing in Georgia for simple battery.

Now, Mohr reports, Sanders is a suspect in the case of a 12-year-old Las Vegas girl who was found dead in October 2010 in Catahoula Parish, La. The mother of the girl was found dead in Arizona.

Prosecutors have asked a federal judge in Alexandria if they can have until Aug. 1 to decide whether to seek the death penalty for the "dead" man, who has reportedly confessed that he admitted killing the pair.

But his attorneys argue that the information should not be included at a trial, because it was elicited in questioning that came after Sanders asked for a lawyer.

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richard.fausset@latimes.com  

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