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High Court Overturns Death Penalty

By Mark Scott

Albany, NY – The State Court of Appeals issued a ruling Tuesday in the case of the last man on New York's death row.

The high court overturned the death penalty against John Taylor, who was found guilty of killing five people inside a Queens fast-food restaurant seven years ago.

The court ruled three years that the state's death penalty law was unconstitutional. The judges would have had to make an exception to that earlier ruling if it had allowed Taylor's execution to proceed. He will be re-sentenced to life without parole.

The vote by justices was close at four to three. Among the dissenters was Eugene Pigott, Jr. of Buffalo.

The high court did not address the broader issue of whether the death penalty itself is unconstitutional. It's now up to the State Legislature to decide whether there should be death penalty law in New York. So far, Democrats who control the Assembly have refused to take up the matter.