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Death penalty trials declining in North Carolina

RALEIGH, NC (AP) — The number of death penalty trials in North Carolina is dropping.

Only one person in the state was sentenced to die in 2013.

Thirty-three-year-old Mario Andrette McNeill was convicted last spring of kidnapping, human trafficking and killing a 5-year-old Cumberland County girl.

His trial was one of five capital cases where a death sentence could have been imposed.

North Carolina has averaged fewer than three death sentences a year over the past decade. That compares with the 1990s, when there were more than two dozen people often were sent to death row in a single year.

North Carolina had no executions this year. A series of lawsuits filed in 2006 challenged the fairness of executions.

The state has 155 inmates on death row, but most have challenges pending.

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