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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Death penalty opponents are using the 25th anniversary of Missouri's resumption of capital punishment to highlight their desire to halt executions.
George Mercer was executed on Jan. 6, 1989, for the 1978 rape and slaying of waitress Karen Keeten in the Kansas City area. Mercer's execution was Missouri's first after a nationwide moratorium on capital punishment was lifted in 1976.
Since then, Missouri has executed 70 inmates.
Death penalty opponents planned a news conference Monday at the Missouri Capitol.
Missouri slowed its execution pace in recent years during court challenges to its procedures.
But it executed two people in the past two months and is scheduled to execute Herbert Smulls on Jan. 29 for the 1991 robbery and slaying of suburban St. Louis jewelry store owner Stephen Honickman.
ATLANTA (AP) - A man who pleaded guilty to slapping a crying toddler on a flight is due in federal court for sentencing.
Joe Rickey Hundley pleaded guilty in October after reaching a plea agreement with federal prosecutors. His sentencing is set for Monday morning.
Prosecutors say Hundley used a racial slur to refer to the 19-month-old boy, who's black, and then hit him under the right eye as the flight from Minneapolis began its descent to the Atlanta airport last February.
The misdemeanor simple assault charge carries a possible prison sentence of up to a year and a fine of up to $100,000. Prosecutors have recommended six months in prison, but Hundley reserved his right to argue for a lower sentence.
The judge isn't required to follow the recommendations in the plea agreement.
NEW ORLEANS (AP) - A federal appeals court is set to review a Texas law that led to the closing of many abortion clinics in the state.
A three-judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans is scheduled to hear arguments Monday over a ruling declaring parts of the 2013 law unconstitutional.
Planned Parenthood sued to block two provisions. One requires doctors to have admitting privileges near where the abortion is performed. The other restricts how doctors administer abortion-inducing drugs.
Planned Parenthood says U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel correctly ruled in October that the provisions place an unconstitutional burden on women's access to abortion.
The 5th Circuit allowed Texas to enforce the law while the decision is appealed. At least a dozen abortion clinics closed after the law took effect.
PHILADELPHIA (AP) - A woman who called herself "Jihad Jane" and helped suspected terrorists overseas faces the possibility of life in prison at her sentencing this week in Philadelphia.
A federal judge must decide if 50-year-old Colleen LaRose of Pennsburg, Pa., presented a real threat to the U.S. or was easy prey for extremists seeking followers with U.S. passports.
LaRose admits she plotted to kill a Swedish artist over a cartoon that offended Muslims. Prosecutors will seek a long sentence Monday despite her extensive cooperation.
LaRose, who called herself "Jihad Jane" in videos posted on YouTube, returned from Ireland in 2009 to surrender to the FBI.
Jamie Paulin-Ramirez of Colorado and Maryland teenage Mohammad Hassan Khalid are also due to be sentenced this week.
Khalid, arrested before he turned 18, is the rare juvenile held in federal custody.