Derek Chauvin intends to appeal George Floyd murder conviction

Derek Chauvin plans to appeal his conviction and sentence for the murder of George Floyd — arguing the judge abused his discretion in critical points in the case, according to documents filed Thursday.

The former Minneapolis police officer said in the court filing that he intends to appeal on 14 grounds.

One claim made by Chauvin in the notice to appeal is that Judge Peter Cahill abused his discretion by denying him a request to move the trial out of Hennepin County because of pretrial publicity.

Chauvin, 45, also claimed Cahill abused his discretion when he denied requests to postpone the trial or grant a new one — and when he rejected a request to sequester the jury for the duration of the trial.

Separately on Thursday, Chauvin filed a motion to pause the appeals process until the state’s high court reviews a previous decision to deny him a public defender.

In April, Chauvin was sentenced to spend over two decades in prison after he was found guilty of the murder of George Floyd.
AFP via Getty Images

Chauvin said he’s been without a lawyer in the appeals process, and has no income apart from prison wages.

During his trial, Chauvin’s lawyer was funded by the Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association’s legal defense fund.

Chauvin claims Judge Peter Cahill abused his discretion on multiple occasions throughout the trial, including denying requests to grant a new trial.
Chauvin claims Judge Peter Cahill abused his discretion on multiple occasions throughout the trial, including denying requests to grant a new trial.

In April, Chauvin was convicted of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter of Floyd after kneeling on his back for nearly 10 minutes in 2020.

He was sentenced to 22 1/2 years in prison.

Chauvin is also charged in federal court with violating Floyd’s civil rights. He has pleaded not guilty to those charges.

With Post wires

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Murder rose by 29% last year with the biggest spike coming after the death of George Floyd (Update) – HotAir

The FBI’s annual crime report is scheduled to be officially released Monday but the NY Times noticed that the data has already appeared on the FBI website. What the data shows is that last year was the sharpest one-year increase in the murder rate since the government started tracking the data in 1960:

The United States in 2020 experienced the biggest rise in murder since the start of national record-keeping in 1960, according to data gathered by the F.B.I. for its annual report on crime.

The Uniform Crime Report will stand as the official word on an unusually grim year, detailing a rise in murder of around 29 percent. The previous largest one-year change was a 12.7 percent increase in 1968.

Here’s a chart that shows the increase last year compared to the previous 59 years.

The real number of additional murders last year was about 5,000 above what we saw in 2019. Still, the total number of murders isn’t as high as it was in the early 1990s. In fact, crime overall mostly was down last year. It’s primarily murder and shootings that spiked.

The big question is why this happened last year. I’ve been critical in the past of the Times’ coverage of this issue. The paper seemed much more focused on blaming the murder spike on the pandemic than it was in looking at other factors. This piece is an improvement in that it at least includes the death of George Floyd and the protests that followed as one of three possible factors.

The reasons for the rise may never be fully sorted out, but analysts have pointed to many possible contributing factors, including various pandemic stresses; increased distrust between the police and the public after the murder of George Floyd, including a pullback by the police in response to criticism; and increased firearm carrying

Murders were already elevated in the first few months of 2020, then increased significantly in June and stayed high through the remainder of the year.

It’s something but I still think the Times is downplaying the obvious a bit. Here’s the chart of the monthly murder rate. What you’ll see is that the first month where the murder rate started to spike above the average in previous years was May. Why in May? Because George Floyd was killed on May 25th and by the next day the video was going viral. The final weekend of May became a weekend of violent protests which pushed the monthly numbers out of orbit. And from there the murder rate continued to go up as sometimes violent anti-police protests were taking place around the country:

Why would the death of George Floyd be connected with a wave of violence? I think the answer to that has to do with the nature of the protests, which were explicitly hostile to police. Police pulled back as protesters created autonomous zones in some cities. It was basically the Ferguson Effect all on a national scale. As police pulled back, criminals had less fear of consequences and also, some people felt more inclined to seek street justice rather than call the police when a disagreement arose. That’s the “increased distrust” mentioned above. The protests last year didn’t have to actually defund police departments in order to have a significant impact on the behavior of both cops and criminals.

As for the other two explanations being offered, blaming this on the pandemic doesn’t make sense for three reasons. First, because of the timing of the spike in May when lockdowns started a month earlier. Second, because other types of crime dropped last year. And third, because other countries which had similar lockdowns and pandemic related stresses didn’t see similar spikes in murder.

That said, I do think there is a different pandemic-related argument that makes some sense as a factor in the spike in murders. The death of George Floyd seems to have kicked off a wave of violence but that wave might have been mitigated by existing anti-violence programs if the pandemic hadn’t shut them all down months earlier. In other words, I don’t think the pandemic caused the violence but it may have been a precondition that made things worse, i.e. the equivalent of dry tinder for a wildfire.

As for the claim that increased firearm sales were responsible for increased crime, I’ve hashed through some of those arguments before. It’s certainly noteworthy that gun sales were up last year but I suspect that’s because a lot of people could see the chaos unfolding on their televisions and the rise in crime connected to it and wanted to protect themselves, not do harm to others. At least one study found no correlation between gun sales and shootings, at least up through last June. It’s particularly significant that the authors of that study had previously reported there was a connection but revised their conclusions in light of additional data.

The really bad news is that murder rates have continued to go up in 2021, though not nearly as fast as last year:

The evidence from big cities suggests murder is still up in 2021 relative to 2020, although the increase is not nearly as big. My collection of data from 87 cities with publicly available year-to-date data shows murder up by 9.9 percent relative to comparable points in 2020.

Some cities like Portland, Ore., and Las Vegas are seeing big increases relative to last year; some big cities like Chicago and New York are seeing flat numbers after sizable increases in 2020; and some places like St. Louis (which had the nation’s highest murder rate in 2020) are seeing sizable declines.

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Portland had some of the most consistent and most violent protests last year and also lost a lot of officers to retirement and resignations. Portland was a worst case scenario for the connection between anti-police protests and increased violence and the numbers seem to reflect that.

Update: Above I included a graph created by the Times which shows the % change in the murder rate since 1960. The author has since removed that graph and replaced it with one showing the annual change in the actual number of murders. Last year really was unprecedented.

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She posted a video of herself getting a butt lift. After her death, the video is now evidence in a murder investigation

Police allege that Adame and Galaz have been performing illicit buttocks augmentations out of their home since 2012, charging nearly $14,000 for three silicone injection sessions

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Lying on her stomach in September 2019, Karissa Rajpaul held her cellphone out in selfie mode and panned up to record a cosmetic procedure to enhance her buttocks. She was getting her second round of illegal filler injections, police told KCAL.

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But something went wrong during her third session the following month. The two women who allegedly performed the procedure in their home without medical licenses called 911 and then fled, the Los Angeles Police Department said in a news release.

Rajpaul, 26, was rushed to the hospital. She died in the emergency room from multiple silicone embolisms.

The LAPD announced Tuesday that the two women who performed the procedure – Libby Adame, 51, and her 23-year-old daughter, Alicia Galaz – have been charged with murder. The duo was arrested on Aug. 5 in Riverside, Calif. It is unclear who is representing them.

Law enforcement announced the arrests this week as part of an effort to locate additional victims.

Police allege that Adame and Galaz have been performing illicit buttocks augmentations out of their home since 2012, charging nearly $14,000 for three silicone injection sessions, according to KCAL.

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Libby Adame, 51, and her 23-year-old daughter, Alicia Galaz have been charged with murder for performing illegal butt enhancement surgeries.
Libby Adame, 51, and her 23-year-old daughter, Alicia Galaz have been charged with murder for performing illegal butt enhancement surgeries. Photo by Screenshot from NBC

The injections, which police said in a news release consisted of “an uncontained, liquid silicone substance,” were administered directly into clients’ buttocks to make them “look fuller.” The method is not approved by the Food and Drug Administration and has been outlawed nationwide, police said. Licensed medical professionals instead use fat injections or silicone implants, which have a gel consistency and are contained in a shell.

“The consequence of injecting uncontained silicone into the body is that it can enter the blood stream and create embolisms, which can result in serious illness or death,” police said.

The FDA has warned that the procedure is dangerous and can lead to death. But operations like the one run by the mother-daughter duo are not uncommon. In 2015, a Maryland woman died suddenly after getting the injections in a fake plastic surgeon’s office in Queens, N.Y., police said.

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In an interview with GQ in 2018, rapper Cardi B said she paid $800 to receive a procedure in a basement apartment, also in Queens, to enhance her buttocks.

Rajpaul, who moved to Los Angeles from South Africa to pursue a career in the adult film industry, died on Oct. 15, 2019, of silicone embolisms in the heart, brain and kidneys, LAPD Detective Robert Dinlocker told KCAL. His colleague, Deputy Chief Alan Hamilton, told KABC that the suspects were using materials “that clearly are not appropriate for any medical procedure that would be performed on a human.”

Adame and Galaz were not licensed to perform the procedures and further put Rajpaul at risk by doing the injections outside of a medical facility, according to police.

“These things are done by people with no training. There [are] no standards. There’s no contingency if something goes wrong,” Dinlocker said.

The LAPD on Tuesday asked for other possible victims, relatives of victims and anyone else with additional information to contact detectives.

Adame and Galaz were released soon after their arrests. Their bonds were set at $1 million each, according to police. It is unclear when Adame is due in court. Galaz’s first appearance is scheduled for Dec. 8, according to KCAL.


09-22-2021 07:14AM

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Mother, daughter charged with murder in illegal botched butt lift

A Los Angeles mother and daughter have been charged with allegedly murdering a wannabe adult film star with an illegal butt lift surgery that resulted in her death.

Libby Adame, 51, and Alicia Galaz, 23, were arrested Aug. 5 in Riverside, California, in connection with the death of Karissa Rajpaul, a 26-year-old South African actress who had just moved to LA, according ABC 7.

Rajpaul, who wanted to work in the adult film industry, died at a local hospital hours after her third procedure at a home in Encino allegedly performed by the women.

The exact cause of death was determined to be acute cardiopulmonary dysfunction and intramuscular/intravascular silicone injections, CBS 2 reported.

Police said Adame and Galaz presented themselves as plastic surgeon specialists despite having no formal training.

“These individuals have no medical training,” LAPD Deputy Chief Alan Hamilton told ABC 7. “They’re not experienced and they’re putting people’s lives at risk.”

Police said that the two woman were injecting their “patients” with a homemade cosmetic cocktail of popular cosmetic chemicals and other dangerous substances.

Karissa Rajpaul had wanted to work in the adult film industry.
Rajpaul died from acute cardiopulmonary dysfunction and intramuscular/intravascular silicone injections.
Rajpaul died from acute cardiopulmonary dysfunction and intramuscular/intravascular silicone injections.

“They were mixing them with chemicals and other substances that clearly are not appropriate for any medical procedure that would be performed on a human,” Hamilton said.

Police have already contacted other victims who’ve undergone procedures with the mother-daughter duo and said that there may be more victims out there.

“We’re also seeking additional victims and relatives of victims who may have had loved ones disfigured or who passed away,” Hamilton said.

Police said there may be additional victims outside of Rajpaul who suffered from the injections from Galaz and Adame.
Police said there may be additional victims besides Rajpaul.

Adame was released after posting $1 million bail, CBS 2 reported. A court date has not been scheduled for her case.

Galaz was released on bond two days after her arrest and is scheduled to make her first court appearance on Dec. 8.

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Barry Morphew charged with killing wife Suzanne sought to ‘hunt and control’

A Colorado man charged with killing his missing wife sought to “hunt and control” her after she said was leaving him, investigators alleged in court documents.

Barry Lee Morphew, 53, was charged in May with first-degree murder and other counts in the presumed death of his wife, Suzanne Morphew, who was reported missing after she didn’t return to their Salida home following a Mother’s Day bike ride on May 10, 2020.

An arrest affidavit released Monday by a judge who ruled last week that there’s enough evidence for Morphew to stand trial says investigators found that Suzanne took “clear, articulable steps” to separate from and divorce Barry starting in January 2020.

“She told her family and close friends about her intentions, secretly recorded her notes of abuse in her phone because Barry monitored it, confronted Barry in arguments that she secretly recorded with help from a friend and, finally, sent him a text four days before she disappeared saying that she was ‘done, let’s handle this civilly,’” investigators wrote in the 129-page affidavit.

Barry Morphew was arrested in connection with the disappearance of his wife, Suzanne Morphew.
Chaffee County Sheriff’s Office

Barry Morphew has insisted to investigators that the couple’s marriage was “perfect,” saying she had no intention of leaving him. But the avid hunter’s statements about his actions before and after Suzanne’s disappearance have been “proven to be false and misleading,” investigators wrote.

By May 9, 2020, one day before Suzanne vanished, investigators allege it “had become clear” that Barry couldn’t stop her from leaving him.

“And he resorted to something he has done his entire life — hunt and control Suzanne like he had hunted and controlled animals,” the document reads.

Barry Morphew, center, appears in court in Salida, Colo.
Barry Morphew has insisted to investigators that the couple’s marriage was “perfect.”
KUSA via AP, Pool, File

Barry Morphew also refused to take a polygraph in the days after Suzanne was reported missing by a neighbor. The woman’s bicycle and helmet were recovered near their home, “discarded before Barry left town” in the early morning hours of May 10, 2020, according to the affidavit.

“The investigation to date indicates that these items were not indicative of an accident, an animal attack, Suzanne being a runaway, Suzanne committing suicide or Suzanne being the victim of a stranger abduction,” investigators wrote.

Authorities said they don’t believe Suzanne Morphew, whose body has not been found, is still alive. Her husband was arrested some 360 days after her disappearance, KKTV reported.

Barry Morphew, who has pleaded not guilty, was released from jail Monday after posting $500,000 cash-only bond. He left the Chaffee County lockup alongside his and Suzanne’s two daughters, the station reported.

A judge ordered Morphew to wear an ankle monitor and primarily remain in Chaffee County. His trial is expected to begin in May 2022.

Suzanne Morphew
Suzanne Morphew was reported missing following a Mother’s Day bike ride on May 10, 2020.

With Post wires

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California murder convictions overturned because juror who supported Black Lives Matter was dismissed from the case

Murder convictions of three California men were overturned because a juror who had ties to Black Lives Matter had been dismissed from the case.

The three men were convicted in 2016 of the murders of a couple in 2012, but an appellate court found that the district attorney in the case had asked “inappropriate” questions of a 25-year-old black juror who was dismissed from the case.

They specifically cited questions related to the woman’s support for the Black Lives Matter movement.

The First Appellate District of California said in an unanimous decision Friday that the district attorney had acted in a discriminatory manner.

“Given the prosecutor’s inappropriate questioning about Black Lives Matter, the absence of any clear and legitimate nondiscriminatory reasons for striking Juror 275, and the evidence of at least some historical discrimination by the prosecutor and other district attorneys in her office, the court’s finding that defendants failed to establish a prima facie case of discrimination lacked substantial evidence,” said Justice Jim Humes in the 70-page decision.

Humes later said in the decision that other accusations of racism against the district attorney’s office had moved the court’s opinion.

“Moreover, there was evidence that the Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office in general, and this prosecutor in particular, had in the past exercised peremptory challenges on the basis of race,” he wrote.

The three men, who are all black, were convicted of shooting and murdering Christopher Zinn, 24, and his girlfriend, Brieanna Dow, 21. Their bodies were found in Antioch in October 2012. Prosecutors said that the shooting was gang-related and was in retaliation for Zinn allegedly stealing guns from the group.

The three men had been sentenced to life without the possibility of parole, and were given additional sentences ranging from 57 to 77 years in state prison, according to the East Bay Times.

A spokesman for the district attorney’s office responded to the ruling in an email to the East Bay Times.

“Our Office is reviewing the opinion of the court,” read the statement. “At this juncture, we intend to retry the defendants and ensure justice in this case.”

An attorney for one of the defendants praised the ruling.

“The opinion speaks for itself,” said Paul Feuerwerker. “The Court of Appeal was clearly disturbed by some of the questioning by the prosecutor and the trial court’s handling of it.”

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Cartel hitmen crossed US border illegally to commit home invasion and murder, police say

Authorities in Zapata County, Texas, are looking for help identifying a hitman for a Mexican drug cartel who is accused of crossing the border illegally, breaking into a man’s home, and murdering him.

Police said last Wednesday that a sicario, or hitman, of the “Tropa Del Infierno” gang carried out a fatal home invasion in the Medina Addition of Zapata. They are seeking the public’s help in identifying the suspect, who is accused of participating in the murder of 22-year-old man, the Laredo Morning Times reported.

A press release from the Zapata County Sheriff’s Office said that on Friday, July 23, police responded to a call in the Medina Addition where gun shots had been fired in the early morning. Arriving at the scene of the incident, police found a young man in his early 20s who had been shot multiple times in his own home, where he died of his injuries. The victim was identified as Santos Flores III.

Investigators determined the victim was murdered during a home invasion. Two male suspects identified as David Mendez Jr. and Billardo Alaniz were arrested by police on charges of murder and home invasion.

“During the course of the investigation it was discovered that Mendez and Alaniz had picked up two unidentified male subjects who had entered the United States illegally through Falcon Lake,” the sheriff’s office said. “The two unidentified male subjects were later found to be cartel hitmen also known as ‘Sicarios’ for the ‘Tropa Del Infierno’ organization.”

Police said that “Tropa Del Infierno” is a “professional organization for highly qualified hitmen” that works for the Cartel Del Noreste.

Mendez and Alaniz were allegedly responsible for taking the two hitmen to the victim’s residence, where he was murdered. Police said that after the killing, Mendez picked up the hitmen miles away from the scene of the crime and transported them to a safe house.

The sheriff’s office is in charge of the investigation with assistance from the Webb and Zapata County District Attorney’s Office, Texas Department of Public Safety Texas Rangers Division, and the U.S. Border Patrol.

“These agencies have been working diligently in hopes of finding the individuals that are responsible for committing this drug cartel related home invasion murder,” the sheriff’s office said.

The sheriff’s office released a photograph of a person of interest in the investigation.

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State Supreme Court Clears the Way for Full Reversal of a Derek Chauvin Murder Conviction

One of the murder convictions against former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin is likely to be thrown out after a decision last week by the Minnesota Supreme Court.

Chauvin was found guilty of killing alleged counterfeiter George Floyd in 2020, an incident that spawned massive violent protests in Minneapolis and nationwide. Chauvin’s conviction came against a backdrop of activists saying they planned to riot if Chauvin were acquitted.

According to KMSP-TV, Minnesota has defined third-degree murder as killing a victim without intent while acting in a dangerous way to other people while showing “a depraved mind.”

The Minnesota high court’s ruling said that the element of a depraved mind is not applicable if the person being charged was only focused on one victim, KMSP reported.

The ruling came in the case of former Minneapolis police officer Mohamed Noor, who was convicted of second-degree manslaughter and third-degree murder in the 2017 shooting death of Justine Ruszczyk Damond.


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However, the ruling is likely to set a precedent that could be applied to the Chauvin case.

“It’s crystal clear now that Derek Chauvin cannot be convicted of murder three,” said Joseph Daly, emeritus professor at Mitchell Hamline School of Law, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

Susan Gaertner, former county attorney in Ramsey County, Minnesota, told the Star Tribune she expects Eric Nelson, Chauvin’s attorney, to try to use the argument that having the charge against him hurt Chauvin’s chances during his trial.

However, she did not give it a very good chance of winning.

Will there be riots if any Chauvin conviction is overturned?

“Do I think that argument will be successful?” said Gaertner. “No.”

Daly said Nelson could argue that the charge impacted the jury, but also downplayed its chances for success.

“By having that charge, it so confused the jurors it violated his due process rights,” Daly said an argument could claim. “I think that’s a valid argument. Whether the court will [buy] it, I doubt it, because [jurors] did find him guilty of the higher crime.”

University of St. Thomas law professor Rachel Moran said the ruling clarifies state law, according to KARE-TV.

“The Supreme Court has to address legal issues that apply to a variety of cases, not just one, and sometimes, really their decision wasn’t so much about when should Mr. Noor get out of prison as it was, how should this third-degree murder statute be defined in anybody’s case?” Moran said.


Minneapolis Police Officers Charged in George Floyd Case Want Separate Trial from Derek Chauvin

Moran said the law is murky as written.

“It contains outdated language that frankly is not very well written, and the court actually said if you want to focus on rewriting the statute that’s a task for the legislature,” Moran said.

“It’s absolutely true none of these laws were written with police officers specifically in mind, so when the government does decide to prosecute a police officer, they’re trying to figure out which of these ordinarily applicable statutes fit with the officer’s conduct.”

“In a practical way, it does not affect Mr. Chauvin at all,” Moran said. “He will probably get his third-degree murder conviction vacated, just like Mr. Noor did, because his conduct was also recklessly indifferent as to one person: George Floyd.”

Chauvin was sentenced to more than 22 years in prison on the second-degree murder charge. The sentence was based on the second-degree murder charge only, according to the Star Tribune. Unless Chauvin’s attorney can successfully argue that the third-degree charge hurt his chances at trial, it is unlikely his sentence on that second-degree murder charge would be affected even if the third-degree murder conviction were overturned.

Caitlinrose Fisher,  one of Noor’s attorneys,  said the ruling was important for her client, according to NPR.

“Mohamed Noor did not act with a depraved mind. Mohamed Noor was not indifferent to human life,” Fisher said during oral arguments over the case earlier this year. “With the benefit of hindsight, we now know that Mr. Noor made a tragic split-second mistake. But if there is to be any meaningful difference between murder and manslaughter, that mistake is not sufficient to sustain Mr. Noor’s conviction for third-degree murder.”

She said Noor “really believed that he was saving his partner’s life that night, and instead he tragically caused the loss of an innocent life. Of course that is incredibly challenging, but I think just having reaffirmation that a mistake like that isn’t murder will mean more than words can say.”

UPDATE, Sept. 19, 2021: This story has been updated to make it clear that Chauvin was sentenced to more than 22 years in prison on a second-degree murder charge in connection with the death of George Floyd. By itself, the overturning of his conviction on the charge of third-degree murder, if it happened, would not negate that sentence.

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Real estate magnate Robert Durst convicted of murder from 21 years ago

A California jury on Friday convicted former real estate tycoon Robert Durst in the 2000 killing of who prosecutors claim was an accomplice in his wife’s mysterious disappearance.

Jurors debated for several hours before returning the verdict. Durst faces the possibility of life in prison without parole. 

Officials claimed that Durst had murdered Susan Berman after she helped him cover up his wife’s disappearance in the early 1980s. Prosecutors had argued that the killing was motivated by fear of Berman’s knowledge of the coverup. 

The trial initially began last year before adjourning for 14 months due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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California man pleads guilty to 2019 murder, arson at synagogue and mosque

A California man this week pleaded guilty to a murder committed at a synagoguge in 2019, an admittance over which he faces the possibility of life in prison.

John Earnest “pleaded guilty in federal court to a 113-count indictment for the religiously- and racially-motivated murder of one person and the attempted murders of 53 other persons,” the Justice Department said in a Friday press release.

Court documents had alleged that Earnest was the shooter who killed one person at the Chabad of Poway synagogue in Poway, Calif., in April of 2019.

Earnest also reportedly pleaded guilty to “attempt[ing] to set fire to the Dar-ul-Arqam mosque in Escondido, California” in March of that year. 

“According to the terms of the plea agreement, the United States and Earnest will jointly recommend a sentence of life in prison followed by 30 years of imprisonment,” the press release said.

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