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Judge To Hold Hearing In Mass. Death Penalty Case

BOSTON (AP) — A court hearing is scheduled Tuesday in the case of Gary Lee Sampson, a convicted killer from Massachusetts who faces a second trial on whether he should receive the federal death penalty.

U.S. District Judge Mark Wolf threw out Sampson’s sentence in 2011, a ruling that was later upheld by a federal appeals court. Prosecutors said last month that they will seek the death penalty a second time during a resentencing trial, and they are expected to ask Wolf to set a trial date.

Sampson pleaded guilty to federal charges for killing two men in Massachusetts. He also pleaded guilty to separate state charges for killing a man in New Hampshire during the same weeklong series of crimes in 2001.

He was the first person sentenced to death in Massachusetts under the federal death penalty law. There is no state death penalty.

Sampson, a drifter who grew up in Abington, pleaded guilty to carjacking and killing Jonathan Rizzo, 19, of Kingston, and Philip McCloskey, 69, of Taunton. He told police he forced both men to drive to secluded areas, assured them he only wanted their cars, then stabbed them repeatedly and slit their throats.

Sampson fled to New Hampshire, where he broke into a house in Meredith and strangled Robert Whitney, a former city councilor from Concord.

Federal prosecutors also have asked Wolf in a recent court filing to again consider recusing himself from the case because of a personal relationship he has with one of the prosecutors. Wolf worked at the same law office as the prosecutor’s father-in-law from 1977 to 1981, attended the prosecutor’s wedding and has occasionally given him and his wife career advice.

Wolfe ruled in 2010 that it wasn’t necessary for him to step down from the case.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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