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Texas/Death penalty debate

Saying he could assume that innocent people have been executed, state District Judge Kevin Fine ruled in a pretrial motion in a capital murder case on Thursday that the death penalty was unconstitutional and found himself Friday facing criticism from a string of high-profile Texans. Fine, a Democrat, said there was no precedent to guide him in resolving the issues raised by defense attorneys in a case involving a man accused of fatally shooting a Houston woman and wounding her sister during a robbery in June 2008. Attorneys for John Edward Green Jr. argued Texas' death penalty statute is unconstitutional because it violates due process rights under the Fifth Amendment since hundreds of innocent people have been sent to death row and later exonerated.


ILLINOIS/Ruling against Rumsfeld

A federal judge refused Friday to dismiss a civil lawsuit accusing former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld of responsibility for the alleged torture by U.S. forces of two Americans who worked for an Iraqi contracting firm. U.S. District Judge Wayne R. Andersen's ruling did not say the two contractors had proven their claims, including that they were tortured after reporting alleged illegal activities by their company. But it did say they had alleged enough specific mistreatment to warrant hearing evidence of what happened. Justice Department spokesman Charles Miller said the department, representing Rumsfeld in the suit, "is reviewing the court's decision."


CALIFORNIA/Park searched for teen

Police searched a park near San Diego on Friday in their effort to find a girl who vanished about a year ago in the same region where Chelsea King, 17, disappeared last week. Investigators focused on Kit Carson Park where a creek enters a pond. Amber Dubois, 14, vanished while walking to Escondido High School in February 2009. King's disappearance and the discovery of a body in a grave in another park near Escondido renewed interest in Amber's case.

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