Supreme Court rejects death row inmate’s appeal

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The Nebraska Supreme Court has rejected the latest appeal of a Texas man on Nebraska’s death row for killed two Grand Island men in 2007.

Marco Torres Jr., formerly of Pasadena, Texas, had sought post-conviction relief for a third time after being sentenced to death for two counts of first-degree murder and other counts in the robbery and shooting deaths of 48-year-old Timothy Donohue and 60-year-old Edward Hall. In his latest appeal, Torres argued that his death sentence should be converted to life in prison based on the Legislature’s vote to repeal the state’s death penalty in 2015. Nebraska voters later reinstated the death penalty.

Torres argued in the appeal that the referendum process to reinstate Nebraska’s capital punishment and his death sentence amounted to violations of his constitutional due process rights and against cruel and unusual punishment.

The state’s high court on Friday rejected Torres’ arguments, saying it found no merit to his claims.

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Texas Adopts Statewide Texting-While-Driving Ban

Effective September 1, 2017, Texas will become the 47th state to pass a statewide ban on texting while driving. Governor Abbott’s signing of House Bill 62 is an effort to unify Texas under a uniform ban and remedy the “patchwork quilt of regulations that dictate driving practices in Texas.”

The bill specifically prohibits drivers from reading, writing, or sending an electronic message on a device unless the vehicle is stopped. That includes texting and emailing. It does not, however, prohibit dialing a number to call someone, talking on the phone using a hands-free device, or using the phone’s GPS system.

Violations would be punishable by a fine ranging from $25 to $99, to be set by each municipality. Although penalties could rise to as much as $200 for repeat offenders.

Studies have found that a driver’s reaction time is half as much when a driver is distracted by sending or reading a text message. According to state officials, in 2015 more than 105,000 traffic accidents in Texas involved distracted driving, leading to at least 476 fatalities.

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