By Sharon Bernstein SACRAMENTO Calif. (Reuters) - California's system for imposing and carrying out the death penalty is so long and drawn-out that it amounts to cruel and unusual punishment and thus is unconstitutional, a federal judge ruled on Wednesday. Ruling in the case of Ernest Dewayne Jones, who was condemned to death in 1995 and has yet to be executed, Judge Cormac J. Carney of the U.S. Central District of California said that to take "nearly a generation" to decide on Jones' appeals was unconstitutional. As part of the ruling, Carney vacated the death penalty sentence in Jones' case. "The dysfunctional administration of California's death penalty system has resulted, and will continue to result, in an inordinate and unpredictable period of delay," Carney wrote in his opinion, filed on Wednesday.
An experimental drug from the biotech company Genentech failed to slow mental decline in mid-stage studies on more than 500 people with mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease, but showed some promise in the least-impaired participants who received a higher dose.
By Amanda Orr HOUSTON (Reuters) - Hundreds of mourners heard relatives share pleasant memories on Wednesday at the funeral of six family members, including four children, who were shot dead execution-style in their suburban Houston home last week. Those killed were Stephen Stay, 39, his wife Katie, 33, and their children Bryan, 13, Emily, 9, Rebecca, 7, and Zach, 4. "Please bless us that we will know the good that comes out of this seemingly senseless tragedy," Roger Lyon, the father of Katie, said in the invocation held at a Mormon chapel. Police said Ronald Lee Haskell, 33, entered the Stay house on July 10 posing as a delivery man and searching for his former wife, Katie's sister.
FRESNO, Calif. (AP) — A hiker who was stranded for six days in California's Sierra Nevada with a badly broken leg says survival mode kicked in when he treated his own injury and sought sustenance by eating crickets and moths, and drinking melting ice.
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Residents of modest neighborhoods near three of the largest oil refineries in California called on the Environmental Protection Agency on Wednesday to crack down on plant emissions, saying the pollution is choking their children and endangering their health.
The U.S. Justice Department on Wednesday confirmed it is investigating the loss of Internal Revenue Service emails being sought by congressional Republicans in an inquiry over tax scrutiny of conservative political groups. In written testimony to be delivered to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Deputy Attorney General James Cole said the probe "includes investigating the circumstances of the lost emails" from the computer of Lois Lerner, a retired IRS official. Last month, the IRS acknowledged losing some of Lerner's emails to a computer hard-drive failure, an incident that has rekindled Republican outrage in the long-running controversy over IRS targeting of conservative political groups. A Justice Department official said there had been no determination of whether the probe was criminal in nature.
By Richard Weizel NEW HAVEN Conn. (Reuters) - A U.S. judge on Wednesday sentenced two British nationals to far shorter prison sentences than prosecutors were seeking after the men pleaded guilty in December to supporting Muslim militants through print and online publications. Babar Ahmad, 40, was sentenced to 12-1/2 years of a maximum 25 years for the crime, which prosecutors said included helping raise money and recruit fighters for the Taliban and al Qaeda before and after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. "It is my conclusion that the defendant does not present a risk of becoming involved in future crimes, and was never involved directly with al Qaeda," Judge Janet Hall said, explaining the lighter sentence. "While these are serious crimes that raised funds for the Taliban and helped its ability to protect Osama Bin Laden and to carry out his Sept. 11 attacks, there must be a distinction made between providing material support and actually taking part in terrorism," Hall said.