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Matthews v. US, No. 09-0321

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By FindLaw Staff on October 06, 2010 7:30 PM

Drug-Related Murder Conviction Affirmed

In Matthews v. US, No. 09-0321, the court affirmed defendant's convictions for racketeering, drug-related murder, and the use of a firearm, holding that, while drug-related murder can be punishable by death if certain aggravating circumstances are specified in the charging instrument, no such aggravating factors were specified in the information.

As the court wrote:  "This case requires us to decide whether the Fifth Amendment guarantees an unwaivable right to indictment by grand jury if the statute under which the defendant is charged authorizes capital punishment under some circumstances. We hold that such an unwaivable right exists only where the charging instrument exposes the defendant to the risk of capital punishment."

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