Last week, a cop killer, a notorious druglord and a defendant portrayed as a one-man crime wave all were in death penalty trials in the same federal courthouse in Brooklyn, reports the Associated Press. A fourth capital trial involving a triple-murder defendant opened in Manhattan federal court. “It’s totally unprecedented to have two, let alone four cases going on at one time in one city,” said Kevin McNally, a death penalty expert.
The Bush administration has been pursuing federal death penalty cases in states with no capital punishment laws. In New York, the state’s highest court declared the state death penalty statute unconstitutional in 2004. There are now 46 inmates on the federal death row _ more than double the total in 2000; three, including Timothy McVeigh, have been put to death since 2001. Two more capital trials are scheduled to begin in Brooklyn this spring; previously, only three capital cases had been tried there since 1994, when Congress dramatically broadened the federal death penalty statute. New York state has not executed anyone since 1963.