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House backs capital punishment for sex trafficking deaths

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A plan that would expand capital punishment in Utah so that criminals convicted of aggravated human trafficking or child sex exploitation that leads to death could be executed has made it through the House of Representatives.

The plan passed by a single vote on Tuesday when House Speaker Greg Hughes returned to the floor to break the tie.

Proposal sponsor Republican Rep. Paul Ray says human trafficking is one of the most heinous crimes, so the death penalty should be an option for prosecutors.

The proposal is only the latest effort by Ray to institute hardline death-penalty plans. He ushered in a law in 2015 allowing Utah to use firing squads in executions if the state can't obtain lethal injection drugs.

The bill next moves to the Senate for consideration.

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