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New York killers being freed by loophole

UPI News Service, 11/28/2005 

A New York state legal loophole is allowing convicted killers win appeals and get out of prison by arguing they had every intention of killing their victims.

The precedent was set in October 2004, when convicted killer Kenneth Payne successfully argued to the state's highest court that prosecutors had misapplied the depraved indifference charge. His lawyers said because he shot his neighbor at point-blank range, he should have been found guilty of intentional murder, and his conviction for depraved indifference should be tossed out.

The court agreed, and Payne was let go after serving six years of a 25-year sentence, the New York Daily News reported.

"Now many of the convictions obtained based upon that precedent are in jeopardy," said Queens District Attorney Richard Brown. "That is just plain wrong."

District attorneys throughout the state have scaled back their use of the depraved indifference charge, which means the killer they acted recklessly but did not necessarily mean to kill.

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Copyright 2005 by United Press International

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