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No Death Penalty in Spy Trial

A federal judge ruled “extremely reluctantly” today that the death penalty could not be imposed in the case against Jerry A. Whitworth, the former Navy radioman accused of selling secret code lists and other sensitive military documents to the Soviet Union.

U.S. District Judge John P. Vukasin Jr. said “it is distressing that Congress has not seen fit” to enact a capital punishment law for espionage. Since it hasn’t, he said, he was bound by U.S. Supreme Court and 9th Circuit Court of Appeals decisions against such action. Courts in Baltimore and Norfolk, Va., have also decided against seeking the death penalty for other members of the alleged Walker family spy ring.


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