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High court rejects La. inmate's death penalty challenge


Created: 06/03/2016 8:52 AM

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court on Tuesday rejected a Louisiana inmate's appeal that his death sentence was unconstitutional.

The appeal from death row inmate Lamondre Tucker was the latest to challenge capital punishment as unconstitutional after Justice Stephen Breyer issued a dissent last year calling for a re-evaluation of the death penalty.

Breyer had criticized the process as arbitrary, prone to mistakes and time-consuming. He dissented again Tuesday, noting that Tucker was sentenced to death in Caddo Parish, which imposes half the death sentences in the state even though it has only 5 percent of the state's population and just 5 percent of its homicides.

"One could reasonably believe that if Tucker had committed the same crime but been tried and sentenced just across the Red River in, say, Bossier Parish, he would not now be on death row," Breyer said.

He again urged the court to decide whether the death penalty is cruel and unusual punishment banned by the Constitution. Breyer's dissent was joined by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

The Louisiana Supreme Court upheld Tucker's conviction for killing his pregnant girlfriend after she told him she believed he was her baby's father.

Jurors sentenced then 18-year-old Tucker to death after convicting him of killing Tavia Sills in September 2009.

(Copyright 2016 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)