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California continues death penalty trials despite moratorium

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — California’s Supreme Court has refused to block death penalty cases from continuing during Gov. Gavin Newsom’s moratorium on executions.

The justices on Wednesday rejected defense attorneys’ arguments that jurors can’t realistically gauge the seriousness of imposing a death sentence if they think it’s never actually going to be carried out.

Newsom halted executions in March for as long as he remains governor. But the death penalty remains on the books and courts have been proceeding on the assumption that executions may one day resume.

Attorneys for two men separately facing trials in multiple slayings argued that it would be unfair to expect jurors to consider what for now are merely hypothetical sentences.

Prosecutors say defense attorneys in essence asked the state’s high court to abolish the death penalty.

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