Thursday, March 10, 2011; A03

Governor abolishes state's death penalty

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn (D) signed into law Wednesday a ban on the death penalty in his state, and he commuted the sentences of 15 death-row inmates to life without parole.

The ban comes about 11 years after then-Gov. George Ryan declared a moratorium on executions after 13 condemned inmates were cleared since Illinois reinstated capital punishment in 1977.

Ryan, a Republican, cited a Chicago Tribune investigative series that examined each of the state's nearly 300 capital cases and exposed how bias, error and incompetence undermined many of them.

"Since our experience has shown that there is no way to design a perfect death penalty system, free from the numerous flaws that can lead to wrongful convictions or discriminatory treatment, I have concluded that the proper course of action is to abolish it," Quinn wrote in his signing statement. "With our broken system, we cannot ensure justice is achieved in every case."

"For the same reason, I have also decided to commute the sentences of those currently on death row to natural life imprisonment, without the possibility of parole or release," the governor wrote.

The death penalty ban will take effect July 1.

- Chicago Tribune

Man charged in King parade bomb attempt

The FBI arrested a man Wednesday in connection with an attempted bombing along the route of the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day parade in downtown Spokane.

Kevin William Harpham, 36, of Colville, Wash., was charged with two counts in the alleged bomb attempt on Jan. 17.

The bomb was found inside a backpack that had been left along the route of the King Day parade. Authorities said the device, had it gone off, would have sprayed the crowd with lead pellets coated with rat poison. Investigators say they think the bomb was placed in such a way as to maximize casualties.

The backpack was found by three sanitation workers 40 minutes before the parade was to begin.

- Seattle Times

Saudi student indicted: A federal grand jury in Texas indicted Khalid Ali-M Aldawsari, a 20-year-old Texas college student from Saudi Arabia, on a single count of attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction. Prosecutors say that Aldawsari was attempting to build a bomb with components bought online and that he was mulling plans to attack various sites.

No more Nevada State Fair: The Nevada State Fair is calling it quits this summer, after 136 consecutive years, because of an insurmountable budget deficit. Nevada will now join Michigan as the only states in the nation without such an event.

No Facebook for bill collector: A Florida judge has ordered a debt collection agency to not use Facebook or any other social media site in an attempt to locate a woman over a $362 unpaid car loan. Melanie Beacham sued Mark One Financial LLC of Jacksonville, saying in court documents that it sent messages to her and her family on Facebook to have her call the agency about the debt.

- From news services

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