Magazine article The Christian Century

Second Judge Rules against Death Penalty. (News)

Magazine article The Christian Century

Second Judge Rules against Death Penalty. (News)

Article excerpt

A federal judge in Vermont has become the second magistrate in two months to say the current national death-penalty law is unconstitutional. U.S. District Judge William Sessions ruled in Vermont that the federal Death Penalty Act does too little to ensure that the rights of defendants in death-penalty cases are safeguarded.

The judge on September 24 struck down a law passed by Congress in 1992, citing a series of recent Supreme Court decisions narrowing application of the death penalty. One delivered in June said that only juries could sentence defendants to death.

Sessions said federal prosecutors should not have used a confession from an alleged accomplice to argue for giving the death penalty to 22-year-old Donald Fell, convicted of kidnapping and beating to death a 53-year-old Vermont woman in 2000. That is because the same evidence would not have been allowed at trial.

"It is inconceivable to this court that Congress could have intended .. …

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