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   Kansas Supreme Court strikes down death penalty

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12/17/2004 12:00 am

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Entered 12/17/2004, Updated 12/17/2004

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TOPEKA — A divided Kansas Supreme Court struck down the state's death penalty.     Read the court ruling  Associated Press story  Past death penalty stories  Amnesty International guide to Kansas' death penalty The 4-3 decision vacates all seven death penalty convictions in the Kansas judicial system. Atty. Gen. Phill Kline criticized the ruling and said he would appeal it to the U.S. Supreme Court. If the decision is allowed to stand it woud be "thwarting the administration of justice, setting aside legislative intent and wreaking emotional havoc on surviving family members," Kline said. The court ruled unconstitutional the part of the death penalty that instructs a jury on weighing aggravating factors of the crime against the background of the defendant, which may have affected that person's judgment. Essentially, the law says that if a jury decides the aggravating factors and mitigating factors are the same in weight, the defendant gets the death penalty. It's referred to as "a tie goes to the state."


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