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Dec 4, 2014 8:08 AM

Death penalty challenge heard in '01 carjacking murders

The Associated Press

BOSTON - Lawyers for a man who confessed to carjacking and killing two men in Massachusetts and killing a third man in New Hampshire have argued that the federal government should not force the death penalty on Massachusetts, a state that has rejected capital punishment.

Gary Lee Sampson was sentenced to death in 2003 by a federal jury in Boston, but that sentence was overturned eight years later by U.S. District Judge Mark Wolf. The judge found that a juror's lies about her background deprived Sampson of his right to an impartial jury.

A second sentencing trial is set for February.

Sampson's lawyers have filed a series of motions challenging the constitutionality of the federal death penalty.

Massachusetts abolished its state penalty in 1984. Sampson was prosecuted under a federal statute.

Wolf did not immediately rule Wednesday.


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