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Death penalty critics use man’s sentence to push law change

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) _ Death penalty opponents are citing a Missouri man’s recent sentence in efforts to change state law regarding capital punishment.

The Springfield News-Leader reports that Missourians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty is pushing state lawmakers to prevent judges from sending criminals to death row without a jury’s approval. The group cited the case of Craig Wood this week in advocating for a bill that would take away the capital punishment option if juries can’t agree.

Wood was convicted of first-degree murder in November for the 2014 abduction, rape and killing of a 10-year-old girl. The jury couldn’t agree on Wood’s punishment, but a judge gave him a death sentence, rather than life in prison without parole.

The group says Missouri is one of only two states where judges can give death sentences if a jury deadlocks.