Vermont Begins Federal Death Penalty Trial

For the first time in 40 years, a death penalty trial is taking place in Vermont. Vermont doesn't have the death penalty. But that didn't stop former Attorney General John Ashcroft from insisting the case be transferred to federal court so the death penalty could be sought.

In 2002 federal prosecutors and defense attorneys had reached a plea deal to have Fell plead guilty in exchange for a sentence of life without parole. But that deal was struck down by the Justice Department, which insisted on the death penalty.

Jury selection began today. If there's any good news, it's that the Justice Department has been losing most of these trials. See, these two cases in Puerto Rico; this one in Binghamton, NY.; this one in Miami; this one in Brooklyn, NY. More here.

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    Re: Vermont Begins Federal Death Penalty Trial (none / 0) (#1)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:00:16 PM EST
    I'd be surprised if they could get a sentence of death in a state whose citizens haven't enacted the penalty given Fell's glut of mitigating facts: "Donald Fell started drinking in the third grade and began using cocaine, marijuana and LSD soon after, according to court documents. He was abandoned by his father at 10 and by his mother three years later. A doctor who evaluated him called Fell "the most drug-abusing and chronically intoxicated individual" he had ever evaluated." www.courttv.com/trials/news/0605/20_vermont_ap.html