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Georgia Won’t Examine DNA Evidence That Could Vindicate A Man On Death Row, Who’s Being Executed Tonight

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A Georgia man on death row in Georgia is scheduled to be executed Wednesday evening with a lethal injection, although he repeatedly insists that the state examine crucial DNA evidence that could exonerate him.

Ray “Jeff” Cromartie, 52, acknowledges being involved in a robbery in a shop near the Georgia-Florida border in 1994 that left one clerk dead, but he has long confirmed that he was not the person who shot the gun that killed Richard Slysz. He maintains his co-defendant, Corey Clark, shot Slysz, and that DNA testing on both clothing and bullet casings might prove that claim. One of the co-suspects of Cromartie also believes that Clark may have shot Slysz, and the victim’s daughter has also asked for DNA testing as well.

Since Cromartie retains his innocence, he refuses to ask the state for leniency. He also rejected the original 1997 plea deal offered to him by prosecutors, since he would be required to plead guilty.

In the second half of the nineties, both Clark and the getaway driver for the robbery, Thad Lucas, evaded the charges of murder and the death penalty for agreeing to testify for the state. In exchange, they were given shorter sentences. Meanwhile, Clark designated Cromartie as the shooter, although there was never any physical evidence that linked him to the murder. Cromartie was still convicted. Lucas and Clark both completed time in prison, but were released in the early 2000s, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Although Clark has been mainly out of sight of the public since he was accused of violating his parole back in 2015, Lucas came forward in an affidavit this week to affirm that he once overheard Clark confess, and said that he couldn’t be sure that Cromartie was the shooter after all.

“I keep hearing that Jeff Cromartie is the shooter, and I know that is probably not true,” Lucas wrote. He said he didn’t come forward earlier because he didn’t think it would change anything, but then news coverage compelled him to speak out.

Slysz’s daughter, Elizabeth Legette, has also said she supports DNA testing to prevent another “meaningless” death. “My father’s death was senseless. Executing another man would also be senseless, especially if he may not have shot my father,” she wrote in a July 16 letter released by Cromartie’s defense team.

Cromartie’s lawyers also appealed Friday, stating that in 1997, Lucas told the Georgia Board of Pardons and Probation in 1997 that Clark, not Cromartie, shot Slysz.

State attorneys, however, have argued that Lucas does not know what happened in the store on the night of the shooting (he was waiting in the car while Clark ran inside with Cromartie) and that the claims do not conform to the standard where the court would review the evidence or would hold a new trial.

As early as September, a judge ruled that the attorneys had failed to review DNA evidence and that the verdict was ratified by the Georgia Supreme Court this month. Southern Judicial Circuit Senior Judge Frank Horkan, who had originally headed Cromartie’s death penalty trial, also said in September that Cromartie waited too long to request DNA testing and that testing would make no difference.

Cromartie could still be executed, even if DNA evidence were to prove he didn’t pull the trigger due to Georgia’s law of parties, which holds people legally responsible, also if they are involved in a crime and not the main culprit of a crime such as murder.

Currently, Cromartie is scheduled to die by lethal injection at 7.00 pm EST. in Georgia Diagnostic Prison in Jackson. He is said to be the third prisoner to be executed in Georgia in 2019, and at least the second high-profile execution of a black man who insists he can be acquitted by DNA evidence. Rodney Reed, a Texas man on death row who claims to be innocent of the murder he was indicted, is due to be executed on November 20. According to the Innocence Project, a legal organization that’s representing Reed in his call to survive, DNA evidence has exonerated at least 20 people in death row.

Live coverage of developments in Ray Cromartie’s execution happening below.

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Trump Administration Plan To Reopen America Being Released Thursday.

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ABC News reports:

President Donald Trump’s plan to re-open the American economy after a near-total shutdown due to the coronavirus pandemic consists of three graduated phases, according to a copy of the proposed actions obtained by ABC News.

Trump unveiled the plan in a video conference call with the nation’s governors on Thursday afternoon. The state leaders were instructed that they could move through the guidelines at their own pace and that the guidelines are not formal orders from the federal government, according to a person familiar with the call.

“Phase one” calls on employers to telework where possible, return to work in phases, minimize non-essential travel and make accommodations for the vulnerable populations within the workforce. It calls on all vulnerable individuals to “shelter in place,” and when in public, all individuals should continue social distancing.

However, a critical piece to this is the “gating criteria” that all states and regions should achieve before they can move on to phase one. This includes a “downward trajectory” of reported “influenza-like illnesses,” “covid-like syndromic cases” and “documented cases” or “positive tests as a percent of total tests” within a 14-day period, as well as the ability for hospitals to “treat all patients without crisis care” and have a “robust testing program in place for at-risk healthcare workers, including emerging antibody testing.”

In “phase two,” non-essential travel for employers can resume. Schools and organized youth activity can reopen. Bars, gyms and large venues can reopen with proper social distancing measures in places. Churches can open with social distancing. Elective surgeries can resume.

The third phase says bars, gyms and large venues can reopen with limited social distancing and proper sanitation.

The president described the guidelines “as a bit of a negotiation,” a source said.

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.

Preview the Trump Adminstration US reopening plan here or below.

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House Passes $2 Trillion Coronavirus Stimulus Bill

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(CNN) — The House of Representatives on Friday approved a historic $2 trillion coronavirus response stimulus package, clearing the way for President Trump’s signature.

The far-reaching legislation stands as the largest emergency aid package in US history. It injects a massive financial boost into a struggling economy with provisions aimed at helping American workers, small businesses and industries grappling with the economic disruption.

Key elements of the package include sending checks directly to individuals and families, an expansion of unemployment benefits, money for hard-hit hospitals and health care providers, financial assistance for small businesses and $500 billion in loans for distressed companies.

“No bill is perfect, but we want to make sure that it at least comes near part of the way to being sufficient,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on the House floor. She said she is already working towards a fourth coronavirus response measure: “We know that this cannot be our final bill.”

A bipartisan swath of lawmakers passed the stimulus package by voice vote, a process commonly used in the House for uncontroversial measures, after Kentucky Republican Thomas Massie attempted to force a full roll call vote — a scenario that had members scrambling to get back to the Capitol from around the country on Friday. 

Congressional leaders blocked Massie’s effort, saying an insufficient number of members supported his request. A quorum of the House — 216 members — was needed to block Massie’s attempt. Members who made it to DC for the debate attempted to maintain social distancing, with some staying on the House floor while others sat in the upstairs gallery above the chamber, where the public usually sits.

Essentially, hundreds of lawmakers traveled to the Capitol in the 24 hours leading up to the vote, not to hold a full vote, but in order to prevent a full vote from happening. If a roll call vote had been taken, it would have been very slow: members would have voted in alphabetical groups in order to limit their social interactions.

Massie wrote on Twitter ahead of the showdown that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy worked together “to block a recorded vote just to insulate members of Congress from ACCOUNTABILITY.”

“Biggest spending bill in the history of mankind, and no recorded vote? #SWAMP,” he said.

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Streatham Stabbings Declared Terror Incident

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Police have confirmed that an incident in Streatham,London is being treated as terrorism-related.

Multiple people are believed to have been stabbed.

Reports say that a man was shot by armed police officers and is dead.

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