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NC House panel meets to review death penalty, race

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RALEIGH, NC (AP) -- A House committee examining whether North Carolina laws should change based on evidence of racial bias in death penalty cases is holding its first meeting.

The meeting Friday comes a month after Republicans failed to override a veto by Democratic Gov. Beverly Perdue of a bill to essentially repeal the Racial Justice Act. The 2009 law created a new legal method through which a judge who determines race was a basis for a death sentence against someone can reduce it to life in prison without parole.

The first evidentiary hearing involving the Racial Justice Act is going on in Cumberland County.

Most local prosecutors oppose the law as too broad and say it's leading to more delays in carrying out capital punishment.

The panel can make recommendations by May.

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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