PASADENA (AP) — A federal appellate court is considering whether California’s death penalty is unconstitutional because of excessive delays.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments Monday in the case of a Los Angeles rapist and murderer on death row over two decades.

A federal judge ruled last year that the death penalty is dysfunctional because of unpredictable delays that have seldom led to executions.

More than 900 people have been sentenced to death, but only 13 have been executed since 1978.

Judge Cormac Carney said the system leads to arbitrary executions and amounts to unconstitutional cruel and unusual punishment.

The three judges in the Pasadena courtroom focused mainly on a procedural question of whether the killer raised those issues at the California Supreme Court.

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