Slate – The Price of Death: Why capital punishment cases are in steep decline, even in Texas.

Randall County, Texas. Randall County, Texas.

Photo courtesy Charles Henry/Flickr

This investigation was reported and written by Maurice Chammah for The Marshall Project, a nonprofit news organization that covers the U.S. criminal justice system. Sign up for their newsletter, or follow The Marshall Project on Facebook or Twitter.

Just before sunrise on a spring morning last year, Larry Maples shot and killed his wife, Heather. He had tracked her to the home of a former boyfriend, a ranch hand named Moses Clemente. Maples shot and wounded Clemente. He then called 911, handed his Colt .45 revolver over to the sheriff’s deputies and confessed.

It was a shocking event for Van Zandt County, a largely agricultural swath of East Texas with roughly 50,000 residents. The local authorities had never sent someone to death row, but Maples—by shooting Clemente along with Heather Maples and thereby aggravating the murder—qualified for the death penalty under state law. It was up to the young district attorney, Chris Martin, to decide whether to seek that punishment.

Martin had been telling reporters he might seek the death penalty, but behind closed doors with the victim’s family and Clemente, the D.A. said he wasn’t sure the case was strong enough to convince a jury that Maples should be executed.

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Richmond Times-Dispatch: Cuccinelli, Earley ask Texas to spare life of mentally ill killer

By FRANK GREEN Richmond Times-Dispatch

Two former Virginia attorneys general are among a dozen conservatives who have signed a letter asking Texas Gov. Rick Perry to spare the life of a mentally ill man set to be executed Wednesday.

According to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, Scott Panetti, 56, was sentenced to death for the 1992 slayings of his in-laws in their Fredericksburg, Texas, home, later telling police his alter ego, “Sarge,” was responsible.

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Inside a ‘Serial’ Addiction: Hit Podcast Features Legal Footwork of UVA Law’s Innocence Project

Deirdre Enright, center, in the studio where an interview for Virginia Innocence Project Pro Bono Clinic president Katie Clifford, Innocence Project Clinic Director of Investigation Deirdre Enright and student team leader Mario Peia gather in the studio to discuss their participation in the “Serial” podcast. Photos by Dan Addison / UVA Public Affairs

“This is a Global Tel*Link prepaid call from — Adnan Syed — an inmate at a Maryland correctional facility.”

Each week, about a million listeners eagerly await the sound bite that begins “Serial,” the hit podcast from the producers of “This American Life.” “Serial” recently introduced its worldwide audience to the Innocence Project at the UVA School of Law, whose students and faculty supervisor are tracking down new leads in a 1999 murder case featured on the show. The school’s for-credit clinic and a related pro bono clinic give students who participate the chance to investigate and potentially to litigate wrongful convictions that may lead to exoneration.