The Supreme Court today agreed to hear the case of a Louisiana man sentenced to death in the brutal rape of his 8-year-old stepdaughter. His attorneys say Patrick Kennedy is "the only person in the United States who is on death row for a non-homicide offense." A 1977 Court decision put a stop the death penalty for acts short of murder.
If upheld, the sentence would end a 43-year trend of executing only murderers, although before 1963, capital punishment was common for rapists, especially black males, the Los Angeles Times reports. "This court should pause before condoning a practice so heavily tinged with the scourge of racism," said an attorney for Fitzgerald, 43, who is black and has an IQ of 70.