alabama denies dna test to potentially innocent man

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this is beyond disgusting

http://thinkprogress.org/justice/2012/02/28/433859/alabama-denies-dna-test-to-potentially-innocent-man-on-death-row/

Andrew Cohen chronicles the many uncertainties in Alabama's case against Thomas Arthur, who was convicted of murder three decades ago and is scheduled to be executed next month. They include a key witness who recanted and then unrecanted her testimony, another man who admitted to committing the murder, and a wig containing DNA evidence that likely belongs to the real killer.

Alabama, however, refuses to allow this evidence to be tested even though it would cost the state nothing to do so:

Late last month, I profiled the wobbly capital conviction against Troy Noling in Ohio and there are remarkable similarities between it and the Arthur case. Both involve white defendants. Both include contentions of innocence and allegations of bad lawyering at trial. Both include a lack of physical evidence linking the defendants to the crime. Both include crucial witness testimony that borders the farcical. And both include state officials reluctant to permit sophisticated DNA testing that might definitively answer questions about whether the defendants committed the murders they will die for.

Arthur's attorneys are even willing to pay for that testing, the few thousand bucks it would be, and the testing could be completed by the execution date. It is here where prosecutors and judges lose me when they prioritize "finality" in capital punishment cases at the expense of "accuracy." It would cost Alabama nothing to let Arthur's lawyers do the testing. And it might solve a case that already has cost the state millions of dollars. Instead, Alabama wants to finally solve its Arthur problem by executing him. No matter how the new DNA test could come out, the state is more interested in defending its dubious conviction.

Alabama can thank the five conservatives on the Supreme Court for its ability to deny Arthur an opportunity to prove his innocence. In 2009, a 5-4 Supreme Court denied a similar DNA test to a potentially innocent man in Alaska.

I'll let Mr. Neil Young finish here

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=byU7j3YnEJU

This sort of case is why the death penalty, which may be theoretically a good idea in some extreme cases, doesn't really work in practice. No justice system is perfect and in a system where death is an option, inevitably someone innocent will get executed. Is this guy innocent? Maybe, maybe not. I'd sure rather pay for his and a mostly despicable crowd of people to live on safely separated from society than risk a mistake that's can't be fixed.

This is murder, plain and simple.

Why the HELL does the state not want him to get a DNA test? I can't see any reason they'd deny it, other than them being afraid they'd lose pride if it's found out that "oooooops the prosecutor made an oopsie", in which case they should STILL do it, because if it's found out that they executed an innocent person and they refused to test him, then I think the blowback would be MUCH worse.

Either that, or they're afraid they'll have to pay out compensation to him and his family, and they'd rather murder an innocent man than do that.

Either way, this is bullshit I'd expect form a dictator in a hellish nation, or from the dark ages. This kind of thing has NO place in a civilized society.

The source is a bit one sided of course, but I can't see the harm in allowing the DNA testing to be done. Not that it would necessarily get him off since the prop could have been worn by more than one person, but the more info the better.

I have to admit I have a bit of a hard time having sympathy and believing a guy who shot a jail guard while trying to escape.

Overall though, I don't like the death penalty because mistakes happen.

This is OT but. So lemmie get this straight. If I linked a news story from fox news as a source. Id be laughed and shunned off these forums. But a link from "thinkprogress" is cool? /shrug

Back on topic. Well first the DNA wouldn't cost the court nothing. Because regardless of the results, it would cost some sort of court time, extra jail time, etc. But that's not the point. And I doubt that money is why they are denying the DNA test. This person has had 30 years to reprove their innocence and has failed to do so. But now, suddenly they want a DNA test that would extend this case even longer. Why not sooner? Sounds like a last ditch effort to stall the execution. Which is pretty much what people are sick of, people on death row who are often guilty as sin, using every legal trick in the book to extend their life or to get released on some legal technicality.

Second. You specifically neglected to mention WHY he was denied this DNA test. That's like saying "a nun was arrested!" But neglecting to mention that said nun robbed a liquor store. All you mention is that the judges are conservative. A dirty and underhanded tactic. In an attempt to divide people on political lines and to say "they're conservative so CLEARLY they are denying him a DNA test for BS reasons because they just want to kill someone because they are EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEVVVVVVIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIILLLLLLLLLLLLLLL"

You sir, are the one that is disgusting.

girzwald:
This is OT but. So lemmie get this straight. If I linked a news story from fox news as a source. Id be laughed and shunned off these forums. But a link from "thinkprogress" is cool? /shrug

I could have sworn I commented on the one sided post right about your post...oh wait, I did.

Second. You specifically neglected to mention WHY he was denied this DNA test.

Read the links, its in there.

Kendarik:

girzwald:
This is OT but. So lemmie get this straight. If I linked a news story from fox news as a source. Id be laughed and shunned off these forums. But a link from "thinkprogress" is cool? /shrug

I could have sworn I commented on the one sided post right about your post...oh wait, I did.

Second. You specifically neglected to mention WHY he was denied this DNA test.

Read the links, its in there.

Don't know about what you found, but the links the OP provided don't include why the evidence is being disallowed that I read.

Help a brother out?

senordesol:

Kendarik:

girzwald:
This is OT but. So lemmie get this straight. If I linked a news story from fox news as a source. Id be laughed and shunned off these forums. But a link from "thinkprogress" is cool? /shrug

I could have sworn I commented on the one sided post right about your post...oh wait, I did.

Second. You specifically neglected to mention WHY he was denied this DNA test.

Read the links, its in there.

Don't know about what you found, but the links the OP provided don't include why the evidence is being disallowed that I read.

Help a brother out?

The only thing I can find so far is the Alaska case link in the first article OP linked to; the article on William Osbourne has a (clearly snipped so it can look how the article wants it to look) quote "unnecessarily overthrowing the established system of criminal justice."

I'm trying to find that actual case so I can see what the judge ACTUALLY said, in full context, but so far, navigating the Supreme court website is.. hell.

I'll get back to you if/when I find it, unless someone else beats me to it.

EDIT: Found this, so far.

http://articles.cnn.com/2009-06-18/justice/rapist.dna_1_dna-testing-post-conviction-access-biological-evidence?_s=PM:CRIME

The article itself claims that the court said inmates cannot use a Federal Civil Rights Law to press for advanced DNA testing that was unavailable at the time of the crime.

So I guess, maybe, that the same thing applies/could be applied to, the man in Alabama. Bah, law and politics both get so unnecessarily convoluted.

Let me just throw this out here, I support the death penalty...but only when it's done right.

That being said, this is completely and utterly wrong. In order to sentance a person to death, you need to be damn sure that they indeed are guilty, and if that certainty only comes pending a DNA test, by Talos, you do the fucking test. I may be a cynical jerk at times, but I'd rather see money spent than see someone killed without the state getting all the facts.

Kendarik:

girzwald:
This is OT but. So lemmie get this straight. If I linked a news story from fox news as a source. Id be laughed and shunned off these forums. But a link from "thinkprogress" is cool? /shrug

I could have sworn I commented on the one sided post right about your post...oh wait, I did.

Second. You specifically neglected to mention WHY he was denied this DNA test.

Read the links, its in there.

Seeing how the OP went in such great detail in how the court case was BS and how the guy was getting screwed youd THINK that he would bother to list the supposedly BS reason why he was denied his DNA test. Oh but I know why he didn't. Probably because it would hurt his argument. Which is why I didn't bother.

And nope. The link DOES NOT state why he was denied the DNA test. All the OP did was quote most of the think progress article verbatim.

So thank you for vindicating my my thoughts about the OP and think progress. Which proves you are either a liar because you never went to the link yourself, or went and knew it wasn't there but hoped nobody else would check.

girzwald:

And nope. The link DOES NOT state why he was denied the DNA test. All the OP did was quote most of the think progress article verbatim.

So thank you for vindicating my my thoughts about the OP and think progress. Which proves you are either a liar because you never went to the link yourself, or went and knew it wasn't there but hoped nobody else would check.

You need to look harder at his link, which included a link to further details, in part:

Predictably, Arthur called Gilbert to testify at the hearing -- to repeat, in essence, in open court, subject to cross examination, what he had sworn to in the affidavit. This time, however, Gilbert chose to exercise his 5th Amendment right to remain silent. Arthur's attorneys say this is because Gilbert was punished by prison officials after his confession to the Wicker murder. Alabama denies that any coercion was used against Gilbert and says that Gilbert said he would recant his confession if he got certain prison privileges back. And Judy Wicker, who had for years exonerated Arthur, did testify at the hearing. She said Gilbert was lying.

The trial judge didn't buy Gilbert's story one bit. In fact, she ruled that Gilbert and Arthur were attempting to "perpetuate a fraud" upon the court. And she ruled that the lack of DNA evidence linking Gilbert to the crime -- it also excluded Arthur, remember -- scientifically proved that Gilbert's confession was false. It is this ruling, the latest of dozens since the Troy Wicker murder, that is still being contested by defense lawyers three years later. They are back. And they want more advanced DNA testing on the wig -- testing they say wasn't available to Alabama in 2008 and 2009.

Alabama says, in essence, that after 30 years and several execution dates for Arthur, enough is enough. To the state, the ongoing conspiracy here is not between the two alleged long-ago lovers, Gilbert and Judy Wicker, but between the two fellow inmates, Gilbert and Arthur. "[E]vidence presented at the [2009] hearing established that while Arthur and Gilbert were both incarcerated at Holman Correctional Facility, the two men passed notes to one another so that Gilbert would have enough information about Troy Wicker's murder to confess to it." (And don't forget about that prison guard Arthur shot 25 years ago during his prison escape.)

Alabama says that the failure of Gilbert's credibility alone justified the trial judge's conclusion that Arthur was not entitled to any relief. This meant that the judge wasn't required to order the initial DNA testing and that no courts now should be required to authorize additional testing. The mini-STR DNA testing requested by Arthur's attorneys, Alabama contends, is just as good as the testing performed on the wig a few years ago. And in any event, the state now says that there is no more DNA left to test on the wig after all these years. The time has come, Alabama says, to end Arthur's litigious life on its death row.

Now, where is my apology for calling me a liar when the real problem is you just skimmed and didn't fully explore the link?

Oh. Well, that's why I usually stay out of things I don't fully understand. Somehow I missed all those highlighted word links inside the OP's first link.

Anyhow; thanks for the clarification Kendarik.

This is a core problem with the US justice system that has been around for a very long time.

Politicians like to hold the criminal justice system up high, claiming that the appeals process makes it very fair and likely to get the right decisions made. The problem is that the appeals process as one major flaw.

The appeals process in the US assumes that the initial decision was the correct decision and appeals focus on finding technical errors within that decision. New evidence, recanted evidence etc takes a backseat and often does not even come into consideration.

Rather than an appeal being "the judge got the decision wrong" it is "there was an error in procedure" and "we are delaying the death of my client".

It is just all sorts of wrong.

I'm going to take this opportunity to remind everyone of the CSI effect. The mere fact that a DNA test was not done does not necessarily mean that a conviction is invalid. This is not to say that justice has been done in the case of Mr. Arthur, merely that we should not proceed immediately from "they won't do a DNA test" to "He's obviously innocent but the cheapskate rednecks want to kill him anyhow".

This just in: the justice system is less fair in conservative states.

Somehow I'm not at all surprised that a state in the south just wants to get down to the killin' YEEEHAAAW!!

The only shocker in this story is that the soon-to-be victim isn't black...

I'm an expert on the justice system in the Southern states.

Mr.Arthur might be able to get by if he challenges the prosecuting to a banjo duel. However, a prosecutor assigned such a high profile case must be very experienced and is likely a banjo master.

If he's going to stand a fighting chance, he's going to have to unlock the 8 inner banjo gates.

It could be dangerous though. Last guy who opened the 8th gate was never able to play banjo again from his injuries.

It's Alabama, I bet the prosecution can't even spell DNA.

aashell13:
This is not to say that justice has been done in the case of Mr. Arthur, merely that we should not proceed immediately from "they won't do a DNA test" to "He's obviously innocent but the cheapskate rednecks want to kill him anyhow".

Which is why they also proceed to note there is no physical evidence apparently, and witness statements seem messy.

Besides, law in the US is very naive in that it assumes it's own infallibility. Any appeal procedure is highly geared towards denying overturning convictions. Troy Davis for instance. Seven out of nine witnesses withdrew their statements, citing that the police had threatened them unless they lied to incriminate Davis. The rest of the case also looked like "A cop got shot. Quick! Arrest the closest nigger! He'll have done it!". Of the remaining two witnesses with didn't withdrew, one is suspected to be the real killer. There was no other evidence.

A case based only on a single discredited witness should fall apart don't you think? I did too, but think again. All appeals were denied, and Davis was killed on 21 september 2011. Killed? I should probably say murdered, because calling it an execution requires a trial.

The only thing needed to smash this case as wrong, that needs critical reviewing is the initial trial, and how much of that still stands today. All the rest can basically be disregarded because of the faulty US trial system which is based on never re-examining decisions.

In this case too, the entire conviction rests on a single witness, the witness statement of a convicted murdereress with a motive to lie.


So kids, if you really really hate someone, go to the police, accuse them of murder. Play witness against them, that's all the evidence needed, and your mean classmate or whatever else gets sent off to death row to face American justice.

uh huh ....

why dose this not surprise me at all ....

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/West_Memphis_Three

oh right -.- that's why....

girzwald:
This is OT but. So lemmie get this straight. If I linked a news story from fox news as a source. Id be laughed and shunned off these forums. But a link from "thinkprogress" is cool? /shrug

Fox "News" has bee proven over and over to do nothing but lie, and have openly admitted that all they care to do is mislead people. They brag about only parroting Republican talking points, and their focus is demeaning the President.

Yeah. When some other news organization so openly flaunts their assholicness and willingness to deliberately lie to people who stupidly trust them for profit, we'll start ragging on them like we do Fox. Until then....

They should test it. while I'm all for the death penalty, it should only be used when there is absolutely no way in hell a sane person could have the slightest doubt someone did a crime worthy of it. There's PLENTY of doubt here. So run the test.

Not really all that surprised that something like this is coming out of a state that prides itself on...um, and, erm...and Oh!
I know!
Yes I do!

OUR CARS AIN'T RUSTED ON UR FRONT LAWNS, like dem' utter foulks.

this is why the death penalty simply does not work. even if they allowed the DNA test and it was inconclusive, there is still enough doubt to the point that in some places he would not even be in jail.

Not saying the guys innocent, but COME ON. At least do the DNA test. That way people wouldn't be uncertain about whether the guy was actually innocent, and people are actually offering to pay for it. This just seems lazy on their part, since it seems that their tired of this never-ending case, and just want to put a close on it.

girzwald:
This is OT but. So lemmie get this straight. If I linked a news story from fox news as a source. Id be laughed and shunned off these forums. But a link from "thinkprogress" is cool? /shrug

Back on topic. Well first the DNA wouldn't cost the court nothing. Because regardless of the results, it would cost some sort of court time, extra jail time, etc. But that's not the point. And I doubt that money is why they are denying the DNA test. This person has had 30 years to reprove their innocence and has failed to do so. But now, suddenly they want a DNA test that would extend this case even longer. Why not sooner? Sounds like a last ditch effort to stall the execution. Which is pretty much what people are sick of, people on death row who are often guilty as sin, using every legal trick in the book to extend their life or to get released on some legal technicality.

Second. You specifically neglected to mention WHY he was denied this DNA test. That's like saying "a nun was arrested!" But neglecting to mention that said nun robbed a liquor store. All you mention is that the judges are conservative. A dirty and underhanded tactic. In an attempt to divide people on political lines and to say "they're conservative so CLEARLY they are denying him a DNA test for BS reasons because they just want to kill someone because they are EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEVVVVVVIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIILLLLLLLLLLLLLLL"

You sir, are the one that is disgusting.

It worked in tx for the longest time, blame a black guy, get a cop to say it was the black guy, execute the black guy, then later on find out it was the wrong guy, shrug, move on to the next black guy.

Plain and simple, they're afraid he really is innocent and will have to pay recompense for 3 decades of false imprisonment, mental anguish, and several other things that will cost the state several million more. Not to mention the killing of the ruling judges' careers. And heaven forbid a judge who wrongfully gives the death penalty to a man gets disbarred! They're covering their asses so they don't have to deal with the backlash. At least this way they can sweep it under the rug.

JoJo:
This sort of case is why the death penalty, which may be theoretically a good idea in some extreme cases, doesn't really work in practice. No justice system is perfect and in a system where death is an option, inevitably someone innocent will get executed. Is this guy innocent? Maybe, maybe not. I'd sure rather pay for his and a mostly despicable crowd of people to live on safely separated from society than risk a mistake that's can't be fixed.

I seem to be quoting with you to agree with you too often... <.<

Anyway this is why I would rather have the government spend my money to keep killers alive behind bars. No system is perfect and mistakes revolving around capital punishment make me feel very uneasy. I'm glad Canada doesn't have capital punishment.

I would like it if we could have consecutive life sentences though as a 'life' sentence here is 25 years and serial killers can get the same amount of jail time as a singular murderer. An innocent man sentenced to a stretch of jail time still has a chance that evidence will prove his innocence. The dead don't care if they are proven innocent after capital punishment.

girzwald:
This is OT but. So lemmie get this straight. If I linked a news story from fox news as a source. Id be laughed and shunned off these forums. But a link from "thinkprogress" is cool? /shrug

Back on topic. Well first the DNA wouldn't cost the court nothing. Because regardless of the results, it would cost some sort of court time, extra jail time, etc. But that's not the point. And I doubt that money is why they are denying the DNA test. This person has had 30 years to reprove their innocence and has failed to do so. But now, suddenly they want a DNA test that would extend this case even longer. Why not sooner? Sounds like a last ditch effort to stall the execution. Which is pretty much what people are sick of, people on death row who are often guilty as sin, using every legal trick in the book to extend their life or to get released on some legal technicality.

Second. You specifically neglected to mention WHY he was denied this DNA test. That's like saying "a nun was arrested!" But neglecting to mention that said nun robbed a liquor store. All you mention is that the judges are conservative. A dirty and underhanded tactic. In an attempt to divide people on political lines and to say "they're conservative so CLEARLY they are denying him a DNA test for BS reasons because they just want to kill someone because they are EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEVVVVVVIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIILLLLLLLLLLLLLLL"

You sir, are the one that is disgusting.

DNA tests are in theory expensive. Practically it doesn't really cost much. You want to know why they didn't do one 30 years ago? Do you really need to ask?
This happens all the time. DNA evidence and new technology (technology we didn't have 30 years ago) is used to give us conclusive evidence in cases like this. If this guy turns out to be innocent then it wouldn't be the first time. You are saying that the state is right in refusing to use evidence at hand. We're talking the death penalty here and they refuse to see possible evidence? If you don't see anything wrong with this I feel sorry for you.

DNA testing didn't just come out yesterday. Why wait until the last minute?

Worgen:

girzwald:
This is OT but. So lemmie get this straight. If I linked a news story from fox news as a source. Id be laughed and shunned off these forums. But a link from "thinkprogress" is cool? /shrug

Back on topic. Well first the DNA wouldn't cost the court nothing. Because regardless of the results, it would cost some sort of court time, extra jail time, etc. But that's not the point. And I doubt that money is why they are denying the DNA test. This person has had 30 years to reprove their innocence and has failed to do so. But now, suddenly they want a DNA test that would extend this case even longer. Why not sooner? Sounds like a last ditch effort to stall the execution. Which is pretty much what people are sick of, people on death row who are often guilty as sin, using every legal trick in the book to extend their life or to get released on some legal technicality.

Second. You specifically neglected to mention WHY he was denied this DNA test. That's like saying "a nun was arrested!" But neglecting to mention that said nun robbed a liquor store. All you mention is that the judges are conservative. A dirty and underhanded tactic. In an attempt to divide people on political lines and to say "they're conservative so CLEARLY they are denying him a DNA test for BS reasons because they just want to kill someone because they are EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEVVVVVVIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIILLLLLLLLLLLLLLL"

You sir, are the one that is disgusting.

It worked in tx for the longest time, blame a black guy, get a cop to say it was the black guy, execute the black guy, then later on find out it was the wrong guy, shrug, move on to the next black guy.

If you substitute "black guy" for "some random schmuck, most likely either black or mentally challenged," you've got the death penalty for the entire country in a nutshell. We probably execute more innocent people than guilty at this point; I honestly have never been as pissed off at anyone as I was during the Casey Anthony trial, because I was watching a bastard of a lawyer try to get a woman put to death, and getting cheered on. I have absolutely no respect for anyone who would sink so low as to commit a murder that cold blooded. And yes, the death penalty is cold blooded, pre-meditated murder. Murder in the first degree, if you will.

Texas hired a quack psychologist to assess mentally retarded death row inmates and bump their alleged IQs up to the cutoff for execution eligibility.

http://www.deathpenaltyblog.com/texas-is-executing-mentally-retarded-regardless-of-atkin-v-virginia/

Ammmmmmurrricah!

question: is Alabama required to pay reparations to wrongly-convicted criminals after their release?

if they are, then they could be saving themselves millions by killing the guy. this is the darkest explanation i can think of, but it makes sense to me.

TBman:
this is beyond disgusting

http://thinkprogress.org/justice/2012/02/28/433859/alabama-denies-dna-test-to-potentially-innocent-man-on-death-row/

Andrew Cohen chronicles the many uncertainties in Alabama's case against Thomas Arthur, who was convicted of murder three decades ago and is scheduled to be executed next month. They include a key witness who recanted and then unrecanted her testimony, another man who admitted to committing the murder, and a wig containing DNA evidence that likely belongs to the real killer.

Alabama, however, refuses to allow this evidence to be tested even though it would cost the state nothing to do so:

Late last month, I profiled the wobbly capital conviction against Troy Noling in Ohio and there are remarkable similarities between it and the Arthur case. Both involve white defendants. Both include contentions of innocence and allegations of bad lawyering at trial. Both include a lack of physical evidence linking the defendants to the crime. Both include crucial witness testimony that borders the farcical. And both include state officials reluctant to permit sophisticated DNA testing that might definitively answer questions about whether the defendants committed the murders they will die for.

Arthur's attorneys are even willing to pay for that testing, the few thousand bucks it would be, and the testing could be completed by the execution date. It is here where prosecutors and judges lose me when they prioritize "finality" in capital punishment cases at the expense of "accuracy." It would cost Alabama nothing to let Arthur's lawyers do the testing. And it might solve a case that already has cost the state millions of dollars. Instead, Alabama wants to finally solve its Arthur problem by executing him. No matter how the new DNA test could come out, the state is more interested in defending its dubious conviction.

Alabama can thank the five conservatives on the Supreme Court for its ability to deny Arthur an opportunity to prove his innocence. In 2009, a 5-4 Supreme Court denied a similar DNA test to a potentially innocent man in Alaska.

I'll let Mr. Neil Young finish here

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=byU7j3YnEJU

\

They probably don't want to admit that they lost the wig and all evidence and so in any event confirming the DNA test would give him innocence instantly. I think from the sounds of things he should be allowed the DNA test. It's innocent until proven guilty. He was tried. He has the right to appeal if new evidence arises. This is new evidence that is only now accessible due to better technology.

Vykrel:
question: is Alabama required to pay reparations to wrongly-convicted criminals after their release?

if they are, then they could be saving themselves millions by killing the guy. this is the darkest explanation i can think of, but it makes sense to me.

Eh they would only have to pay him about 1.5 million if he was proven innocent. You can't sue for false imprisonment in Alabama, they just give you a straight 50,000 per year of incarceration.

Pretty pathetic of the government really, 50 grand a year isn't too bad, but you can't account for the fact that half of his life is over and he wasn't allowed to do anything with it. Louisiana is worse though, they only pay 15,000 per year.

VincentR:

EDIT: Found this, so far.

http://articles.cnn.com/2009-06-18/justice/rapist.dna_1_dna-testing-post-conviction-access-biological-evidence?_s=PM:CRIME

The article itself claims that the court said inmates cannot use a Federal Civil Rights Law to press for advanced DNA testing that was unavailable at the time of the crime.

So I guess, maybe, that the same thing applies/could be applied to, the man in Alabama. Bah, law and politics both get so unnecessarily convoluted.

Well... it might be that they didn't have the same procedures as they do now and articles could have been contaminated when officer Joey Joe Bob pranced around the police station in the wig for laughs because there was no such thing as DNA testing back then or some such.

It's the only thing I can think of other than "Well... we have to kill SOMEONE might as well be him."

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