Judge in Massachusetts Death Penalty Trial to Leave Case

The federal judge presiding over the death penalty trial of a Massachusetts man is stepping down from the case.

Gary Lee Sampson was condemned by a jury to die after pleading guilty to carjacking and killing two Massachusetts men in 2001. In 2011, U.S. District Court Judge Mark Wolf ordered a new sentencing trial after finding that a juror had lied about her background.

The decision Wednesday by Wolf to step down comes after he refused a request from prosecutors to recuse himself over his past association with an inmates' rights advocate who may testify for the defense in Sampson's retrial.

In a memorandum Wednesday, Wolf noted that his status as a senior judge entitles him to reduce his caseload, and the Sampson case could require him to devote several years.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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