2011-05-19 / Local & State

Pa. Juries Rarely Opt For Death Penalty

PHILADELPHIA (AP) – The Philadelphia Inquirer says Pennsylvania juries have opted for the death penalty in only 3 percent of first- degree murder cases in the past few years.

The paper cited an analysis of almost 2,000 Pennsylvania homicide cases between Jan. 1, 2007 and Feb. 3.

One-third of all firstdegree murder cases ended with a sentence of life in prison with no chance of parole, and the remainder with guilty verdicts on lesser degrees of homicide, guilty pleas, acquittals or dismissal of charges.

Only eight people have been sentenced to death by Pennsylvania juries since 2007.

Just three people have been executed since Pennsylvania reinstituted capital punishment in 1978, and all had dropped their appeals. The 211 men and four women awaiting execution in Pennsylvania constitute the nation’s fourth-largest death row.

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