Death penalty

Updated at 5:52 p.m. ET

Lawmakers in Nebraska overrode Gov. Pete Ricketts' veto of their vote to repeal the death penalty, making it the first Republican-controlled state in the U.S. to repeal the death penalty since North Dakota in 1973. The vote was 30-19.

Lethal injection was the grim subject before the U.S. Supreme Court Wednesday. Specifically at issue: whether the drug combinations currently used to execute convicted murderers in some states are unconstitutionally cruel.

The issue comes to the court after three botched executions over the past year.

The U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments Wednesday in three death penalty cases testing which drug combinations constitute cruel and unusual punishment when used to execute a convicted murderer by lethal injection.

It is the second time in seven years that the justices have looked at the lethal injection question, and it comes after three botched executions over the past year.

Courtesy Texas Department of Criminal Justice

HOUSTON — The U.S. Supreme Court has refused to review the appeal of a Salvadoran man on Texas death row for the slayings of two store clerks in Houston 15 years ago. The high court offered no explanation for its decision Monday in the case of 45-year-old Gilmar Guevara.

Lower courts have rejected claims Guevara’s legal help at his Harris County trial in 2001 was deficient and that his mental impairment made him ineligible for the death penalty.

Guevara was condemned for fatally shooting 48-year-old Tae Youk and 21-year-old Gerardo Yaxon during an attempted robbery in 2000.

Youk was from South Korea.

Yaxon was from Guatemala.

No money was taken from their store.

The death penalty is legal in more than 30 states, but the long-controversial practice has come under renewed scrutiny after a series of botched executions in several states last year.

Opponents of capital punishment argue that the death penalty undermines the fair administration of justice, as wealth, geography, race and quality of legal representation all come into play, with uneven results.

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