Illinois Abolishes Death Penalty = Chris Coleman Staying Earthbound For Now

New law could spare Chris Coleman's life.
New law could spare Chris Coleman's life.
Illinois Governor Pat Quinn yesterday signed a bill permanently abolishing the death penalty in his state and commuting the sentences of all thirteen people currently on death row. They now face life in prison without the possibility of parole.

The new Illinois law likely means that Chris Coleman, the man charged with strangling his wife and two sons to death in 2009, will spend his life in prison should he be convicted of murder following his trial next month.

One of Coleman's attorneys tells the Belleville News-Democrat that abolishing the death penalty was both "historic" and "appropriate." Meanwhile, prosecutors in that case plan to continue to seek the death penalty in hopes that state voters might overturn the new law.

Executions in Illinois had been on hold since 2000 when then-governor George Ryan placed a moratorium on capital punishment after finding that several of the state's death row inmates were innocent or had been convicted improperly. In 2003, Ryan commuted the death sentences of all 167 convicts then on death row.

Missouri, by comparison, has 48 men currently on death row and last executed a prisoner on February 9. No similar such legislation to abolish the death penalty is under consideration in Missouri.
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