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Texas death row execution halted as case takes a strange twist

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Texas inmate Larry Swearingen, who has been sitting on death row for 17 years, may have been plotting to avoid his date with the execution chamber in November by having a serial murderer take the fall for his crime, according to a county prosecutor.

But an attorney for Swearingen denies such a plot exists with a second death-row inmate, Anthony Shore, and Shore has not tried to take the rap for Swearingen’s convictions. The attorney said over the weekend that the county prosecution’s collusion accusation is false and part of a series of blunders in a faulty prosecution.

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For Shore, with five murder convictions, admitting to one more killing would not change his death sentence. But for Swearingen, such a confession could spare his life.

The questions about a confession led a state court to call for the postponement of Shore’s planned Oct. 18 execution a few hours before his scheduled lethal injection until authorities can determine the facts.

Swearingen was convicted of raping and strangling Melissa Trotter, a 19-year-old college student, with pantyhose in 1998 in an area north of Houston in a crime similar to murders that Shore has been convicted of committing.

Shore has never said that he killed Trotter, which could take Swearingen off the hook. But the Montgomery County District Attorney’s office said it believes the two death row inmates are perpetrating a fraud upon the criminal justice system.

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Dubbed the “tourniquet killer,” Shore was known for using tourniquets to torture and strangle five girls and young women in the Houston area in the 1980s and 1990s.

A folder containing information about the murder for which Swearingen had been convicted was found in Shore’s cell in July, prosecutors said.

It contained court crime scene photographs of the Trotter murder, court exhibits and a hand-drawn map where Trotter’s body was found, prosecutors in Montgomery County, north of Houston, told Texas Governor Greg Abbott in an Oct. 16 letter.

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District Attorney Brett Ligon said in the letter his office had evidence that Shore would take blame for the Trotter murder and falsely claim responsibility.

“We remain absolutely certain of Swearingen’s guilt of Melissa Trotter’s murder,” Ligon said.

On the day of Shore’s execution, however, no such claim had been made and his court-appointed attorney said the allegations of a scheme to confess to the Trotter murder were unfounded.

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“Mr. Shore was not responsible in any shape or form with the Melissa Trotter homicide and any documents found in his jail cell related to the homicide were either given to him by Mr. Swearingen or openly attainable through public sources,” K. Knox Nunnally said in a telephone interview.

The Texas Department of Criminal Justice, which is investigating the case, said death row inmates are in single cells and do not have physical interaction. But they can talk to each other from their cells or when they are in recreation areas near one another.

Lawyers for Swearingen for years have said he is innocent and that they have experts who can show he could not have taken part in the murder. The lawyers have argued there were serious flaws in his prosecution and no physical evidence tying him to the murder.

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James Rytting, an attorney for Swearingen, said there was no collusion with Shore and dismissed the allegation from prosecutors.

“As far as I am concerned, they have bamboozled their way through this,” Rytting said in a telephone interview.

(Reporting by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Dan Grebler)


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Pennsylvania Republican senator arrested and charged with possession of child pornography

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According to a release from Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, Republican state Sen. Michael Folmer has been arrested and charged with possession of child pornography.

The release said that the investigation began as the result of a CyberTip about Tumblr discovering that a user had uploaded child pornography onto their site. It ultimately led to the home of Folmer in Lebanon, PA. A search warrant yielded images on Folmer's phone.

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Netanyahu refuses to concede after he falls short — blames media instead

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Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, refused to concede after being down in the election night polls. Like the last election, Netanyahu is claiming his own personal victory and blaming the media for all of his woes.

Senior Diplomatic correspondent Barak Ravid, at Channel 13 News in Tel-Aviv, was live-tweeting the election results late Tuesday night.

https://twitter.com/barakravid/status/1174116674225758209?s=21

"Netanyahu says Israel needs a Zionist government that is committed for Israel as a Jewish state. No government can be based on support from Arab parties," Ravid said.

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Mitch McConnell crony running for Kentucky AG is ineligible for office: lawsuit

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On Tuesday, the Lexington Herald-Leader reported that a new lawsuit seeks to remove Daniel Cameron from the ballot as the Kentucky GOP's nominee for state attorney general.

According to the lawsuit, filed by retired union worker and "concerned citizen" Joseph Leon Jackson Sr. in Jefferson Circuit Court, Cameron does not meet the office requirement of having practiced law for eight years — because although he was admitted by the Kentucky Bar Association in 2011, he spent two of the following years clerking for U.S. District Judge Gregory Van Tatenhove.

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