Death sentence for killer tossed
LITTLE ROCK — The Arkansas Supreme Court has ordered a new sentencing for a death-row inmate convicted of killing his girlfriend and her two young children around the holidays in 2006.
Justices on Thursday upheld James Aaron Miller’s murder conviction but ordered that he be resentenced.
Miller was convicted of killing Bridgette Barr, 5-year-old Sydney Barr and 2-year-old Garrett Barr while the children visited their mother in Fort Smith for Christmas. The children lived with their father in Oklahoma.
Justices ruled that two witnesses should not have been allowed to recommend that the jury impose the death penalty during the sentencing phase.
Justices rejected Miller’s argument that the bodies were discovered during a warrantless search of his apartment.
Governor signs school reforms
SACRAMENTO — Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has signed into law sweeping education reforms that will let California compete for up to $700 million in federal money.
Mr. Schwarzenegger signed the bills Thursday at a middle school in Los Angeles. He praised them as landmark reforms that once seemed politically impossible.
Many of the steps were opposed by teachers unions and other education groups.
Among other changes, the reforms will link teacher evaluations to student performance and allow parents with children in the worst-performing schools to send them elsewhere.
State officials will be allowed to close failing schools, convert them to charter schools or fire the principal and half the staff.