Feds In San Francisco Go After Death Penalty For First Time Since 1948

Interestingly, the Justice Department trumped the local U.S. Attorney and decided to go for the death penalty in one of these cases even though the local U.S. Attorney had already worked out a plea agreement.  The Bush Administration was not shy about pushing the death penalty, but that’s likely to change under the Obama regime. In fact, it’s expected  that the new Justice Department may turn around and let the original guilty plea stand for one of the defendants.

By Bob Egelko
San Francisco Chronicle
SAN FRANCISCO — For the first time since 1948, lives are at stake in a San Francisco federal courtroom.

Two alleged gang members went on trial before separate juries last week, each accused of three murders as part of a racketeering enterprise to control local drug trafficking. The Justice Department is seeking the death penalty for both defendants, in one case over the objections of the U.S. attorney’s office, which had agreed on a 40-year prison sentence.
They are the first two federal death penalty trials in California’s Northern District, based in San Francisco, since two Alcatraz inmates were convicted, sentenced to death and executed in the San Quentin gas chamber in 1948 for an escape attempt two years earlier in which two guards and three prisoners were killed.

They’re also the first life-or-death trials of any kind in San Francisco since 1991, when a convicted murderer was sentenced to death in Superior Court.

For Full Story


Mexican Drug Cartels Get Their Way (N.Y. Times)

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