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Veto threat halts death penalty change

May 22, 2009 at 12:18 PM

AUSTIN, Texas, May 22 (UPI) -- A Texas lawmaker says he had to amend a death penalty measure that would have prohibited execution for defendants who didn't kill anyone.

State Sen. Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa, a Democrat, said a veto threat by Republican Gov. Rick Perry forced him to change the legislation passed by the House last week, the Austin American-Statesman reported Friday.

"We wanted that provision to stay in," Hinojosa said, "but the governor's office made it clear they would veto the bill if that went through."

Instead, Hinojosa said the bill provides separate trials for co-defendants in murder cases in which one or more defendants didn't actually kill anyone.

Under current Texas law, multiple defendants in capital murder cases can face execution even though they may not have been the killer.

"We're not going to get any progress on this area of the law until we get another governor," Hinojosa said.

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