AG Strange Appeals Death Sentence Decision, Federal Money for AL Wildlife Conservation

Mar 11, 2016

Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange

Alabama's attorney general is appealing a recent ruling that declared the state's death penalty sentencing system unconstitutional.

Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange says Jefferson County Circuit Court Judge Tracie Todd doesn't have the authority to prevent the state from seeking the death penalty against defendants who are charged with capital murder.

In Alabama death penalty cases, juries recommend sentences but judges have the final say. It’s not uncommon for state judges to overturn a jury recommendation of life in prison in favor of the death penalty.

Last week, Judge Todd issued a decision blocking prosecutors from seeking the death penalty against four men charged in three killings. Defense attorneys cited a U.S. Supreme Court decision declaring a similar sentencing system in Florida unconstitutional.

State prosecutors argue Alabama's sentencing system has key differences from Florida's and is constitutional.

Washington is sending millions of dollars to help protect Alabama’s ecology.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is spending nearly $24 million in Alabama and nearly $1.1 billion nationwide to help with conservation efforts and promoting outdoor recreation.

Mike Piccirilli is with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. He says the increased funding will create new jobs as well as restore Alabama’s wildlife.

“There has been a tremendous demand for ammunition, which creates a tremendous amount of jobs, and we have seen in economic times where the economy slows down, we’ve seen a larger participation rate in fishing and actually hunting activities.”

Piccirilli adds the majority of public hunting grounds, shooting ranges and wildlife research projects are mostly funded by the Wildlife Restoration program.

Spring break season is here. While some college students might be heading out to party, others are taking a different route.

A group of University of Alabama students are participating in the “Beyond Bama Alternative Break” program. Students will be doing a number of activities to help out various communities.

Gretchen Moore is the Assistant Director for the Center of Service and Leadership at UA. She says students have a chance to see poverty firsthand.

“They’re not just going to serve the community, they are serving alongside the community so that they can gain a better understanding before they get there. With understanding that they will never truly have the experience, but at least now they are aware of different systematic issues.”

Students will be going to Nicaragua, Peru, and various locations in the southeastern U.S. including Guin, Alabama, Orlando, Florida and New Orleans, Louisiana.

Forecasters say lots of rain today and throughout the weekend could lead to rising rivers and some flooding in southwest Alabama.

The National Weather Service says the state's southwest corner will be under a flood threat today and tomorrow. Rainfall totals of up to 8 inches are expected.

Forecasters say there's also the potential for some isolated severe thunderstorms this afternoon and evening.

Later, on Sunday night and into Monday morning, the National Weather Service expects another threat of severe thunderstorms over northern Alabama. Forecasters say those storms could produce damaging wind and large hail.