death penalty

A Texas death row inmate was executed Wednesday by lethal injection for the 2003 fatal stabbing of two women, an elderly mother and her daughter, who had angered him when they were unable to provide him with enough work at their home for him to sustain himself.

Billy Jack Crutsinger, 64, died at the state penitentiary in Huntsville 13 minutes after receiving a lethal dose of pentobarbital.

In closing arguments in a death penalty trial, the prosecution told an all-white jury that a black defendant was "a big black bull."

In the case of a different black man, prosecutors justified excluding a black juror because he drank alcohol by calling him a "blk wino," whereas a potential white juror who drank was considered "ok" and a "country boy."

Sister Helen Prejean is best known for her 1993 memoir, Dead Man Walking, about her role as a spiritual adviser to a convicted killer on death row. The story was adapted into an Oscar-winning film starring Susan Sarandon and Sean Penn. Prejean has accompanied six prisoners to their executions and has been at the forefront of activism against the death penalty.

The Justice Department's announcement that the federal government will resume its use of capital punishment has raised questions about the drugs it plans to use.

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Updated at 4:55 p.m. ET

The U.S. government is poised to carry out the death penalty for the first time in nearly two decades, the Justice Department announced Thursday.

U.S. Attorney General William Barr has instructed the Federal Bureau of Prisons to change the federal execution protocol to include capital punishment, the Justice Department said.

Updated at 6:55 p.m. ET Tuesday

The U.S. Supreme Court ordered documents unsealed Monday in a death penalty case out of Alabama after a motion was filed by the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and NPR.

The blacked-out information, a rarity for the Supreme Court, involves the drugs and protocol Alabama uses for executions.

New Hampshire is now the 21st U.S. state to have abolished capital punishment, after its legislature voted to override a veto by Republican Gov. Chris Sununu. After a years-long effort to repeal the state's death penalty, the state's Senate voted 16-8 Thursday to finally make it official.

Calling capital punishment "archaic, costly, discriminatory and violent," Democratic state Sen. Melanie Levesque said the time has come to end it, according to New Hampshire Public Radio.

New Hampshire is poised to become the 21st state to abolish the death penalty.

The state Senate voted 17-6 Thursday to end capital punishment, adding its voice to the state House which voted for repeal last month by a vote of 279-88. The bill changes the penalty for capital murder to a mandatory life sentence without the possibility of parole.

Two Supreme Court decisions just hours before a scheduled execution. Two decisions just seven weeks apart. Two decisions on the same issue. Except that in one, a Muslim was put to death without his imam allowed with him in the execution chamber, and in the other, a Buddhist's execution was temporarily halted because his Buddhist minister was denied the same right.

The two apparently conflicting decisions are so puzzling that even the lawyers are scratching their heads and offering explanations that they candidly admit are only speculative.

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