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Judge puts all capital murder trials on hold in Delaware

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DOVER, Del. (AP) — A judge has halted all trials and penalty hearings in Delaware capital murder cases while the state’s Supreme Court mulls the constitutionality of the state’s death penalty law.

Monday’s order was issued President Judge Jan Jurden of Delaware’s Superior Court system.

Last week, the Delaware Supreme Court accepted several questions submitted by a Superior Court judge regarding the roles of judges and juries in Delaware death penalty cases. Those questions were prompted by a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling.

The U.S. Supreme Court said Florida’s death sentencing structure was unconstitutional because a jury, not a judge, must find each fact necessary to impose a death sentence.

Delaware’s sentencing scheme is similar to Florida’s.

Meanwhile, a bill to abolish Delaware’s death penalty was defeated in the state House last week.

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