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San Mateo DA joins fight to resume executions

Posted: September 10, 2012 3:00 p.m.
Updated: September 10, 2012 3:00 p.m.

REDWOOD CITY, Calif. (AP) — A Northern California District Attorney has joined the fight to resume executions in California.

The San Jose Mercury News reported ( ) that San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe has asked a local judge to set an execution date for Robert Fairbank, who was sent to Death Row for the murder of a San Francisco woman in 1985.

Wagstaffe's request follows efforts by Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley to secure execution dates for two other people. It comes as state voters are set to decide whether to keep the death penalty in November.

Los Angeles prosecutors said the timing of their efforts is unrelated to the proposition.

"We're not trying to rush and get an execution before Nov. 6," Deputy District Attorney Michelle Hanisee told the newspaper. "This is about getting our system back on track."

State and federal court orders have stopped executions in the state because of concerns over the three-drug procedure used. Critics say Cooley and Wagstaffe are trying to circumvent those decisions.

But the offices and supporters respond that the fault lies with Gov. Jerry Brown and Attorney General Kamala Harris who have been slow in fighting the legal challenges.

"Prosecutors and victims' advocates throughout the state are indeed frustrated with the failure of the (state) to get this process moving," said Kent Scheidegger, legal director of the Criminal Justice Legal Foundation told the Mercury News.

Both prosecutors want executions allowed with a single drug method.

A judge is expected to consider Wagstaffe's request in October.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.



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