Some pan death-penalty trial in state that ended punishment
Added 06-10-19 06:22:07pm EST - “A perplexed prospective juror at the trial of a former graduate student charged with kidnapping and killing a University of Illinois scholar from China said during jury selection last week that she didn't understand how a conviction…” - Washingtontimes.com
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CHICAGO (AP) - A perplexed prospective juror at the trial of a former graduate student charged with kidnapping and killing a University of Illinois scholar from China said during jury selection last week that she didn’t understand how a conviction could carry the death penalty in Illinois when the state struck capital punishment from its statutes years ago.
The judge explained that Brendt Christensen’s case is a rare instance of the U.S. Department of Justice seeking the death penalty in one of the more than 20 states that doesn’t have capital punishment, drawing on U.S. laws that allow executions by federal authorities for exceptional crimes.
Christensen’s is the first federal death-penalty trial in Illinois since it abolished capital punishment in 2011, dismaying activists who fought to end executions in the state. They fear it’s the start of a trend under President Donald Trump - a blunt death-penalty proponent - of more such trials, more often in states with no death penalty on their books.
“It’s pretty outrageous when the federal government is essentially imposing capital punishment on a state that abolished it,” Rob Warden, a leader in the 2000s of Illinois’ anti-death penalty movement, said about the Christensen trial. “It’s absolutely morally offensive and indefensible.”
Despite past success, anti-capital punishment activists in Illinois are no longer positioned well to mount protests. Many shifted to other causes. And the Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, a main umbrella group in the movement, has been disbanded in Illinois.
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