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Defendant Pleads Guilty in Case That Overturned Delaware Death Penalty

benjamin_rauf_new_castle_county_police.png
New Castle County Police

WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) - A Temple University law school graduate has pleaded guilty in a case that prompted Delaware's Supreme Court to overturn the state's death penalty law.

The News Journal reports 29-year-old Benjamin Rauf pleaded guilty to manslaughter and a weapons charge in the drug-related 2015 killing of classmate Shazim Uppal.

Prosecutors had planned to seek the death penalty against Rauf, but the judge sought the state Supreme Court's opinion after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against Florida's similar law, which allowed for capital punishment even when juries are less-than-unanimous in recommending death.

Rauf's case also presented a second test for Delaware law, when public defenders asked a judge to toss evidence they argued was gathered from an unconstitutional search of cellphone location records. Attorneys were awaiting a decision when Rauf pleaded Monday.

Don Rush is the News Director at Delmarva Public Media. An award-winning journalist, Don reports major local issues of the day, from sea level rise, to urban development, to the changing demographics of Delmarva.