Court considers challenge to California death penalty

PASADENA (KRON/AP) — Since 1978, more than 900 people have been sentenced to death in California, but only 13 have been executed.

A federal appellate court is now considering whether the state’s death penalty is unconstitutional because of excessive delays.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments Monday in the case of a Los Angeles rapist and murderer on death row for more than two decades.

Last year a federal judge ruled that the death penalty is dysfunctional because of unpredictable delays that have seldom led to executions.

Judge Cormac Carney said the system leads to arbitrary executions and amounts to unconstitutional cruel and unusual punishment.

The three judges in the Pasadena courtroom focused mainly on a procedural question of whether the killer raised those issues at the California Supreme Court.

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