In a Brooklyn federal death penalty trial of a convicted drug trafficker with ties to the rap music industry, a judge called the effort to seek his execution “absurd” and a waste of money and urged prosecutors to ask the Justice Department to abandon it, reports the New York Times. The jury was not present when the Judge Frederic Block made his remarks during a break in closing arguments at the racketeering and murder-for-hire trial of Kenneth McGriff. McGriff, known as Supreme, is on trial in connection with two killings.
Under federal death penalty law, if a jury finds a defendant guilty, a second minitrial is held to determine whether that defendant will face execution or life in prison without parole. The decision to seek the death penalty is made by the attorney general before the case begins. The judge said that even if McGriff, 46, is convicted, continuing to the penalty phase would be pointless and would waste resources that could better be spent on probation officers, marshals, and other services. McGriff's trial is one of three death penalty cases that are ongoing or recently concluded in the Brooklyn courthouse.