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Perry, Abbott, Blast Judge's Decision & Midday Roundup

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By KERA News & Wire Services

Dallas, TX – Gov. Rick Perry and the Texas attorney general are criticizing a Houston judge's decision to grant a murder suspect's pretrial motion declaring the death penalty unconstitutional.

Attorney General Greg Abbott says the decision ignores U.S. Supreme Court precedent and is "an act of unabashed judicial activism."

The motion was one of many submitted by defense attorneys Bob Loper and Casey Keirnan arguing Texas' death penalty was unconstitutional for their client, John Edward Green Jr. Green is accused of fatally shooting a Houston woman and wounding her sister on June 16, 2008.

Abbott is offering to help the district attorney appeal Judge Kevin Fine's decision.

Sandra Guerra Thompson, a professor at the University of Houston Law Center, says Fine's decision is unlikely to withstand appellate review.

DHA allows church at public housing unit after all

A Dallas Housing Authority chief has reversed a ban on Sunday worship services at a public housing apartment complex for the elderly. DHA President MaryAnn Russ said Thursday that Lake Highlands United Methodist Church can have services at Audelia Manor this Sunday after all.

Russ says she misspoke when she said such services violate the constitutional separation of church and state and the city housing authority's contract with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

She says she didn't mean to upset anyone in trying to update written agreements with churches.

The Rev. Pamela Clark says she's pleased with the reversal and says "God is good."

Dallas woman shot to death in front yard

Police say two men pulled up to a Dallas house and gunned down a woman in her front yard.

Officers don't believe the shooting was random and are investigating a motive for the killing of 42-year-old Raquel Ramirez. Police say she had just dropped off her daughter at school and was walking across her lawn when she was shot numerous times Thursday morning.

Ramirez was a widow and the mother of two daughters. Her husband was killed in Mexico several months ago, and police are investigating whether the slayings are linked.