Homicide

Testimony to begin in drifter's death penalty retrial

A drifter who was sentenced to death in the carjack killings of two Massachusetts men will ask a new jury to spare his life at a retrial that's set to get underway in Boston.

Gary Sampson was sentenced to death in 2003, but a judge granted him a new sentencing trial in 2011.

Sampson pleaded guilty to killing 69-year-old Philip McCloskey and 19-year-old Jonathan Rizzo during a weeklong crime rampage in 2001. He was convicted separately in New Hampshire in the killing of a former city councilor from Concord.

The new jury will be asked to decide Sampson's punishment: life in prison or the death penalty.

Massachusetts abolished the death penalty in 1984, but Sampson was prosecuted under federal law.

Opening statements are scheduled for Wednesday in federal court.