One man was charged in Orlando, Fla., with kidnapping and fatally shooting his estranged wife. Another man was indicted in Syracuse, N.Y., in the armed robbery of a restaurant and the murders of two employees. And a third man was charged in Anchorage with fatally shooting two people during a home invasion.
Those cases and four others prosecuted in federal courts around the country all had a common theme — they were among cases in which the Justice Department under President Donald J. Trump directed federal prosecutors to seek the death penalty if they won convictions.
But now, under a new administration, the Justice Department has moved to withdraw the capital punishment requests in each of the seven cases. The decisions were revealed in court filings without fanfare in recent months.
The decision not to seek the death penalty in the cases comes amid the Biden administration’s broad rethinking of capital punishment — and could signal a move toward ending the practice at the federal level.
Earlier this month, Attorney General Merrick B. Garland announced a moratorium on federal executions and ordered a review of the way death sentences are carried out. But the decision not to seek the death penalty in cases where it had already been authorized goes further, taking capital punishment off the table in cases that are still being prosecuted.
It was not immediately clear whether the decision to withdraw the death penalty authorizations in the seven cases was part of a broader effort, and the Justice Department has not announced policy changes in how or when the government seeks the death penalty.
Other lawyers are still waiting for responses to their requests for de-authorization of the death penalty in their clients’ cases.