In brief: May 2018

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In Massachusetts, some Republicans are calling for reinstatement of the death penalty for the murder of law enforcement officials in the wake of the killing of a Yarmouth police officer last month. CBS Boston affiliate WBZ reports that the Republican Party tweeted its support for bringing back the death penalty for killing a police officer, and that an aide to Republican Gov. Charlie Baker has indicated he would support a bill, but that “there seems little appetite in the legislature – controlled overwhelmingly by Democrats – to debate the death penalty again.”

In Florida, the Alaska man accused of killing five people and wounding six in a shooting at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport in January 2017 will be sentenced to life in prison without parole. The Tampa Bay Times reports that last week, lawyers for Esteban Santiago reached a plea deal with federal prosecutors that in return for a guilty plea and an agreement to give up all appeal rights, he will not face a death penalty trial.

Also in Florida, the Sun Sentinel reports that a judge has ruled that accused Parkland school shooter Nikolas Cruz is entitled to a public defender. Cruz, who has confessed, is facing 17 murder and 17 attempted murder charges in the February 14 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Cruz has offered to plead guilty in exchange for a sentence of life without the possibility of parole, but prosecutors are insisting on seeking the death penalty.

In Texas, the Texas Tribune reports that 31-year-old Erick Davila was executed late last month after just nine years on death row. He was convicted of shooting the mother and daughter of a rival gang member at a birthday party in Fort Worth in 2009. This was the fifth execution in Texas this year.

In Nebraska, the Supreme Court ordered the attorney general’s office to explain why attorneys for condemned prisoner Carey Dean Moore were not notified that they had requested an execution warrant for him. The Lincoln Journal Star reports that if the 60-year-old Moore is put to death for the murders of two Omaha cab drivers, Reuel Van Ness Jr., and Maynard Helgeland, it will be the state’s first execution since 1997.

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