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CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
October 7, 2013 | By Robert J. Lopez
A 53-year-old man convicted of killing two Riverside County Sheriff's Department deputies in 1997 has died after possibly committing suicide, corrections authorities said Monday afternoon. Timothy Russell was convicted in the ambush slayings of James Lehmann Jr., 41, an Apple Valley resident, and Michael Haugen 33, who lived in San Jacinto.  The deputies had responded to an early morning domestic-violence call outside a remote desert-area mobile home where Russell lived.  Authorities said Russell was hiding behind scrub brush and opened fire with a World War II-vintage military carbine as the deputies got out of their patrol cars in pre-dawn darkness on Jan. 5. They died at the scene.
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NATIONAL
March 11, 2014 | By Michael Muskal, This post has been updated, as indicated below.
Glenn Ford, one of the nation's longest-serving prisoners on death row, is scheduled to be freed from a Louisiana prison after he was exonerated of charges that he killed a man in 1983, his lawyers announced. A Louisiana court on Monday ordered that Ford, an African American who served 30 years on death row, be released after new information exonerated the former yard worker of killing a white man. Ford was expected to be released Tuesday. [Updated, 5:53 p.m.:  Ford walked free Tuesday afternoon.
NATIONAL
September 28, 2012 | By Molly Hennessy-Fiske
A Louisiana man was released from death row on Friday after serving 15 years for a crime that DNA evidence shows he did not commit. Damon Thibodeaux, 38, was the 300 th prisoner nationwide to see his conviction overturned based on DNA evidence, according to lawyers who represented him from the New York-based Innocence Project. He was the 18 th death row prisoner freed based on such evidence. “This journey to freedom was a long time coming,” said one of his attorneys, Caroline Tillman of the Capital Post-Conviction Project of Louisiana, in a statement Friday.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
June 20, 2011 | By Carol J. Williams, Los Angeles Times
Taxpayers have spent more than $4 billion on capital punishment in California since it was reinstated in 1978, or about $308 million for each of the 13 executions carried out since then, according to a comprehensive analysis of the death penalty's costs. The examination of state, federal and local expenditures for capital cases, conducted over three years by a senior federal judge and a law professor, estimated that the additional costs of capital trials, enhanced security on death row and legal representation for the condemned adds $184 million to the budget each year.
NATIONAL
March 30, 2011 | By David G. Savage, Washington Bureau
A bitterly divided Supreme Court on Tuesday tossed out a jury verdict won by a New Orleans man who spent 14 years on death row and came within weeks of execution because prosecutors had hidden a blood test and other evidence that would have proven his innocence. The 5-4 decision delivered by Justice Clarence Thomas shielded the New Orleans district attorney's office from being held liable for the mistakes of its prosecutors. The evidence of their misconduct did not prove "deliberate indifference" on the part of then-Dist.
OPINION
December 31, 2010
The cages must go Re "Inmates caged for therapy," Dec. 28 If the vision of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation is "a safer California through correctional excellence," then citizens and legislators should demand that this therapeutic practice of caged group therapy for mentally ill inmates end. As a matter of public safety, we all ought to be very concerned that this inhumane practice occurs without a...
NATIONAL
February 21, 2012 | By Molly Hennessy-Fiske
A Texas death row inmate convicted of murdering his pregnant ex-girlfriend and her 7-year-old son in 2005 is seeking a new trial, alleging that his attorney had a "secret deal" with the judge to quickly dispose of his case. Attorneys for Stephen Barbee, 44, plan to argue in a Fort Worth state court this week that his defense in the double murder case was tainted. The proceeding, scheduled to begin Wednesday, was ordered by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals after a 2010 Associated Press story showed that presiding Judge Robert Gill had negotiated plea deals in certain cases, many of which were handled by Barbee's court-appointed attorney, William H. "Bill" Ray. Ray gave details about the plea deals, which expedited Gill's docket, during testimony in a 2009 federal court case that a judge subsequently sealed.
OPINION
November 15, 2009
Life on death row Re "When death penalty means a better life," Nov. 11 Isn't it nice that our death row inmates enjoy such luxurious accommodations compared to the rest of the prison populace? You talk about milking the system. The fact that Billy Joe Johnson requested the death penalty because he knows he won't be executed for at least 30 years, and is now able to enjoy a life of relative comfort at taxpayer expense, is yet another example of our bureaucratic stupidity.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
November 24, 2011 | By Andrew Blankstein, Los Angeles Times
A San Quentin inmate on death row for the 1978 murder of three USC film students was found dead in his cell, state prison officials said Wednesday. David Leslie Murtishaw, 54, died Tuesday night of an apparent heart attack in his single-person cell, said officials with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. The former Santa Fe Springs resident was convicted in the fatal shootings of film students James Lee Henderson, Martha Bernice Soto and Ingrid M. Etayo.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
December 5, 2011 | By Maura Dolan, Los Angeles Times
After upholding nearly 50 death sentences in a row, the California Supreme Court on Monday broke its pattern by overturning the convictions of a reputed gang leader in Los Angeles and his alleged accomplice in two killings that sent both men to death row for 15 years. The state high court unanimously ruled that Cleamon Johnson and Michael Allen, convicted of killing rival gang members Peyton Beroit and Donald Loggins in 1991, were denied a fair trial when a judge removed a juror who appeared to be critical of the prosecution's case.
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