[Deathpenalty] death penalty news----OHIO, N.C., ORE., CALIF.
rhalperi at smu.edu
Mon Aug 1 16:58:27 CDT 2011
Lawyers Seek to Spare Life of Killer of 11 Women
Defense lawyers were trying to spare the life of an ex-Marine convicted of
killing 11 women by painting him as someone who suffered from post-traumatic
stress disorder and other mental illnesses. The sentencing phase of trial
begins Monday for Anthony Sowell, 51, a sex offender who was found guilty on
July 22 of murdering the women and abusing their corpses, which were hidden in
his home and buried in his backyard. The jury, which sat through weeks of
disturbing and emotional testimony, saw photographs of the victims’ corpses and
listened to the police describe how the bodies had been left in a home that
smelled so bad that neighbors complained. The defense hopes to convince jurors
that Mr. Sowell, who showed little emotion during the trial, is mentally ill
and does not deserve to die. If the jurors do not decide on the death penalty,
he faces life in prison without the possibility of parole. Mr. Sowell had
pleaded not guilty to killing the women, many of whom had been missing for
weeks or months before their bodies were found in plastic sheets and garbage
bags in the house and yard.
(source: Associated Press)
Sentencing phase to begin for convicted Ohio serial killer
Anthony Sowell has been classified as a "sexually violent predator," meaning
parole is not an option.
Anthony Sowell will receive life in prison without parole or the death penalty
He was convicted of killing 11 Cleveland-area women between 2007 and 2009
He has been classified as a "sexually violent predator"
The sentencing phase of Sowell's trial begins Monday
An Ohio jury on Monday will begin the sentencing phase for convicted serial
killer Anthony Sowell, ultimately deciding whether he should receive life in
prison or the death penalty for killing 11 Cleveland-area women between 2007
Jurors on July 22 convicted Sowell of 11 counts of aggravated murder and more
than 70 other charges, including abusing corpses and kidnapping. The sole
not-guilty verdict came on an aggravated robbery charge.
During the sentencing phase, Sowell will be able to make a statement on his own
behalf without being under oath or facing cross-examination from prosecutors,
said Ryan Miday, a spokesman for the Cuyahoga County prosecutor's office. The
defense can also call expert witnesses to discuss Sowell's background,
including his childhood and his military service.
Sowell has been classified as a "sexually violent predator," meaning parole is
not an option, Miday said.
If jurors decide to recommend that Sowell die for his crimes, the judge can
overrule that recommendation and impose a life sentence. But if jurors decide
to spare Sowell's life, the judge cannot impose a death sentence, said Greg
Popovich, Cuyahoga County court administrator.
Sowell's convictions ended a saga that began in October 2009 with the discovery
of the first 2 victims' remains inside Sowell's home. He eventually was accused
of killing at least 11 women ranging in age from 25 to 52.
He grew up in East Cleveland, joined the Marines at age 18 and traveled to
California, North Carolina and Japan, authorities said.
Sowell served 15 years in prison for attempted rape before being released in
2005. People who met him after his release described him as "a normal guy." He
was known locally for selling scrap metal.
Sowell guilty for murders of 11 women
Sowell's inconspicuous two-story home sat in a dilapidated neighborhood known
as Mount Pleasant, where at one point 1 in 5 homes was in foreclosure and at
least a third of the residents received food stamps, according to a 2010 study
by Case Western Reserve University's Center on Urban Poverty and Community
Development. A stench hovered around the area, but no one realized it was the
scent of decaying human flesh, instead assuming it was a byproduct of a nearby
Many of Sowell's victims struggled with drug addiction at some point, and court
records showed many resorted to stealing and prostitution to support their
habits. The disappearances of the women -- many of whom lived near him -- went
largely unnoticed for two years, with only four women being reported missing.
In late 2008, a woman named Gladys Wade told police that a man in a gray hoodie
offered her beer, and when she declined he punched her in the face several
times. Wade said he then attempted to rape her, dragging her toward his home,
and that she escaped after "gouging his face."
Police investigated Wade's complaint, and one police report noted the presence
of blood droplets on Sowell's walls and steps. But officers told CNN affiliate
WKYC that the case was dropped after Wade declined to press charges. 6 more
women disappeared after her complaint.
The first bodies were discovered after a 36-year-old Cleveland woman told
police a story similar to that of Wade, as well as the woman whose 1989 account
led to Sowell's attempted rape conviction. She said he had invited her into his
home for beer, punched her in the face and began performing oral sex on her --
letting her go only after she promised to return the next day.
Most of the women whose remains were found in and around Sowell's home had been
strangled by ligature, which can include a string, cord or wire, and at least
one had been strangled by hand, officials said. Seven women still had ligatures
wrapped around their necks. A skull was all that remained of one victim; it had
been wrapped in a paper bag and stuffed in a bucket in the home's basement.
At Sowell's trial, his defense rested without calling any witnesses or
presenting any evidence, according to CNN affiliate WOIO. His defense attorneys
have declined previous requests by CNN to explain their case.
Sowell jury begins considering death penalty
The same jury which convicted Anthony Sowell of 11 murders has begun to hear
arguments about whether the serial killer should be sentenced to death or to
life in prison with no possibility of parole.
"Only 2 potential sentences remain," Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court Judge
Dick Ambrose told the jury. "You will weigh the aggravating circumstances
against the mitigating factors."
Sowell, 51, was convicted July 22 on more than 80 counts of aggravated murder,
kidnapping, abuse of a corpse, and tampering with evidence. The remains of 11
women were found in and around his home on Imperial Avenue on Cleveland's east
side in the fall of 2009.
"I'm confident that if you follow your votes as jurors in this case," Assistant
Prosecutor Rick Bombik said in his opening statement to the jury, "you'll have
no difficulty in arriving at the conclusion that the aggravating circumstances
outweigh the sum total of all the mitigating factors."
Sowell's lead defense attorney John Parker said his client has many issues
which mitigate against imposing the death penalty on him, including
obsessive-compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and psychosis.
"This is a very tough decision," Parker said. "We believe at the end of the day
you will find the appropriate sentence in this case."
Prosecutors called no witness to testify that Sowell should be sentenced to
death. It rested its case by simply presenting to the jury all of the evidence
they used to convict Sowell, including photos of the crime scene and autopsy
Sowell's defense team began testimony by calling to the witness stand Dr. Dale
G. Watson, a clinical and forensic neuro-psychologist from California. Watson,
who refused to be photographed or videotaped during his testimony, said he
spent 19 hours examining Sowell.
Sowell was also interviewed by Watson, who performed 45 to 50 tests while
Sowell was locked up in the Cuyahoga County Jail awaiting trial. His work on
behalf of Sowell's defense team cost taxpayers about $38,000.
Watson testified that Sowell has "indications of brain dysfunction," especially
in the parietal area of the brain. He said when Sowell was tested in assembling
a 10 piece puzzle blindfolded, he became slower, rather than faster when asked
to do it with both hands, after first being tested with each hand separately.
The expert said the results were unusual, and an indication of brain
dysfunction in Sowell.
(source: WKYC News)
Be Fair - Death row appeal tests equality under law
Marcus Robinson, formerly of Cumberland County and now residing on North
Carolina's death row, is a killer. That's not in dispute. Neither is his
conviction for first-degree murder. His isn't that kind of appeal.
In fact, if someone were to come forward and testify that exculpatory evidence
had been suppressed, that testimony would be evaluated in a trial court, not
the court that is hearing his appeal under the 2009 Racial Justice Act.
If he fails in this action, he will remain on death row. If he succeeds, he'll
be moved to another part of the prison and live out his life there. The Racial
Justice Act provides no 3rd outcome.
The burden of proof is on Robinson, whose case will be rebutted by the state;
and what he must prove to the court's satisfaction is that race played a
significant part in the decision to seek or impose a death sentence.
Now that we're clear on what Robinson's appeal is not about, take a closer look
at what promises to be an interesting first test of the new law.
We don't know the facts, but this case could have been chosen for its
simplicity, meaning its lack of side issues and other encumbrances.
Robinson is African American. His victim was white.
Robinson's case for being resentenced to life without parole rests on data.
Statistics may, under the act, be considered by the court hearing the appeal.
The case poses two questions - one for the court, another for the public and
For the court: Can Robinson prevail using nothing but statistical evidence,
almost all of it culled from cases other than his own? If so, we may eventually
see a steady procession of inmates moving into standard cell blocks.
For the public and lawmakers: If the statistical evidence is strong, will we be
able to handle the truth that many death row inmates got a raw deal due to skin
color? Can we watch that procession and not fume and bluster about the
injustice of showing those inmates "preference" by preventing their racially
tainted death sentences from being carried out?
The questions are important because some of Robinson's evidence is powerful -
not mere numerical disparities, but disparities so dramatic that scholars
calculating odds and probabilities placed them outside the realm of mere
chance. An example: peremptory strikes that effectively excluded qualified
blacks from juries at a rate more than twice the exclusion rate for qualified
white juror prospects.
Robinson has had his trial. This one could prove to be ours.
(source: Editorial, Fayetteville Observer)
LIFE AND DEATH ROW -----The crusade of Christian Longo; The convicted killer
wants to donate his organs, but is it just another selfish plea for attention?
Christian Longo joined Oregon’s Death Row without remorse.
Even with his sentence passed down in April 2003, the convicted killer still
was clinging to the web of lies he’d cooked up to explain the deaths of his
wife and three young children. Longo still insisted to his own family and
friends that he strangled his wife, MaryJane, in a fit of rage, after
discovering that she had killed two of the couple’s children, not long after
the family moved to the Oregon Coast from Michigan in 2001. Then, he
maintained, he put the last child breathing, 2-year-old Madison, out of her
The fabrication enraged the family of his victims. Not only was Longo still
denying his horrific crimes, he was blaming them on his murdered wife.
Now, from the white walls of a 6-foot-by-8-foot cell at the Oregon State
Penitentiary, Longo wants the world to believe he has changed. That he’s come
to grips with the “monster” that he is. That he accepts full responsibility for
strangling his wife and youngest daughter, Madison, and dumping his two other
children, 4-year-old Zachery and 3-year-old Sadie, off a bridge and into a
frigid bay along the Oregon Coast while they were still alive, rock-filled
pillowcases tied to their legs to ensure they sank to the bottom and drowned.
Now, he says, he wants to make amends.
Longo said he wants his organs donated once he’s executed, and he’s created a
Facebook page, a nonprofit organization — and a headache for prison officials
who said they have no interest in negotiating with inmates who want to change
the rules or the drugs used to put inmates to death. (The current cocktail of
drugs makes it impossible to preserve organs.)
Longo claims he’s willing to waive his appeals if the state will grant what
would ultimately be his last wish, potentially shortening the time before his
Family members of Longo’s victims said what the narcissistic killer really
wants is attention.
In April, editors at the New York Times gave Longo a virtual megaphone,
publishing an opinion piece by the inmate, allowing him to launch a nationwide
campaign to convince not just Oregon but all states to change the rules for
capital inmates, to let them donate their organs after they’re executed.
“I look at the death penalty as a lemon of an automobile,” Longo wrote in a
65-page letter to the Department of Corrections on June 4, 2010. “No matter
what is done in an attempt to fix it, it will always be broken.
“But as long as we are stuck with it, we might as well deliver
Longo’s proposal comes with a host of practical and ethical complications that
leave the organ donation community and prison officials in steadfast opposition
to the idea.
It’s also a painful reminder to the victims’ families that Longo is still
alive. That he writes letters, has a Facebook page, spends 90 minutes a day
working out, eats cinnamon rolls, watches movies and develops relationships
with people on the outside. That he gets to have a cause, a purpose, while
their loved ones do not. Christian Longo may have changed, they said, but he
never really can make amends for what he did.
“If he was truly sorry for what he has done, he would shut up and accept his
punishment,” said Penny Baker-Dupuie, MaryJane Longo’s sister. “If it was truly
important to him, he would fight for the cause privately.”
Added Cathy Shukait, a close friend of Jennifer Kegley, another of MaryJane
Longo’s sisters: “He wants to give up his organs? Take them out without
“That’s how I feel.”
The boy who cried wolf
Longo said he knows this quest is offensive to many people on many levels.
Nonetheless, he’s committed to seeing it through, he said. And he insists it’s
not an attempt to soften his image, to blunt the impact of what he’s done, to
alter his legacy as a killer.
But the problem with Christian Longo is that he’s told so many lies to so many
people, the same stack of mistruths and kited checks and identity theft that
got him “disfellowshipped” from the Jehovah’s Witness church in Michigan. The
same lies that finally collapsed on him in 2001, after he murdered his family
and disappeared to Mexico, posing as a disgraced former New York Times
Psychologists have labeled him a borderline psychopath, a narcissist. His IQ is
in the 98th percentile, according to experts who testified at his trial. Longo
is smart, guileful and charming enough to convince just about anyone of
anything. Knowing his true motives, what really makes him tick, is nearly
impossible, Baker-Dupuie said. And that includes the story of how he came up
with the organ donation idea in the first place.
Longo tells it this way: When he first got to Death Row, people who’d been
following the case started writing him letters, which he learned is
commonplace. He sorted through the mail and decided whose letters he’d respond
One correspondent was a young woman from Salem named Shawna Wilson, who had
grown up in Springfield and followed the Longo case. She wrote to Longo because
she was curious, she said. She wanted to know how a man could kill his own wife
“I just thought, ‘What is this man thinking? Do you remember what color clothes
(your children) were wearing?’?” said Wilson, 36, now a student at Chemeketa
Community College, in a recent interview.
Her first letter was generic, Wilson said, feigning empathy, even. She told
Longo she knew he didn’t have family in Oregon and that he could write to her
if he wanted to.
“In a situation like this,” Longo said in a recent interview with The
Register-Guard in the prison’s visiting area, with a wave at his surroundings,
“a pen pal is a great thing to have.”
Over the next several years, the two developed an odd friendship, with romantic
undertones, at least for the death row inmate — although not one he could ever
hope to consummate. Their attachment became an emotional one, both said.
And for the first several years, it was a correspondence based on a series of
The killer insisted, as he had with everyone else who remained in contact with
him, that the story he told in court was true, that he murdered two of his
family members and not four. That MaryJane was a bad mother, to boot.
Wilson knew to whom she was writing, his documented history of manipulation and
deceit. Ultimately, she came to believe that maybe Christian Longo would be
straight with her, she said, if she gave him a clean slate. To this day, Wilson
has no idea what in the letters was truth and what was fiction. But she was
completely sucked in, if for no other reason than to find out what he’d say
“If I gave him a little bit about me, he would write back a little bit about
his life,” she said. “It was fascinating.”
After some time, Wilson revealed to Longo that she has a condition known as
systemic scleroderma, an autoimmune disease that ultimately can cause the
kidney and other organs to fail. Longo, who said he signed up to be an organ
donor when he first got his driver’s license, said he wanted to help her, and
he began to lobby the prison to allow him to donate a kidney to his pen pal.
But the state only allows living organ donations to relatives, Jeanine Hohn, a
Department of Corrections spokeswoman, told The Register-Guard. A new kidney
wouldn’t do Wilson any good anyway, because her condition would cause her body
to reject it and make the surgery itself a life-threatening one.
The final deal-breaker: Longo and Wilson are not of the same blood type.
The deadbeat’s dilemma
But this small quest had unlocked something inside of Longo, he said.
Years after brutally killing his family, Christian Longo said he was developing
a kind of conscience — a notion at which his victims’ families scoff. He said
he has had eight years on Death Row to think about why he killed his family.
There’s a “flaw” in him, and he’s not sure labels like “psychopath” or
“narcissist” accurately describe it.
“It’s a point of selfishness,” Longo said. “It allows you to do anything to
maintain the image you want to project.”
Christian Longo finally realized it was time to come clean about what he had
done, he said. He said he started with Wilson, in a 50-page letter, the
all-caps handwriting so precise it looks almost computer generated.
Longo spilled his life story onto those pages, spending most of his time on the
two years before the murders, when he slid deeper and deeper into debt and was
facing criminal charges for theft.
Longo decided he wanted out, he said. If he took the path most deadbeat dads
choose, everyone would know what he’d done, that he’d abandoned his family, he
said. So he decided that he would make them vanish, himself included.
“It was a pride issue. Leaving would represent to everybody that I had failed,”
Longo said. “If they disappear, if I disappear, no one knows for sure. It’s a
He finally told the woman he now describes as his best friend: He was guilty of
For several months, Wilson did not respond to the opus. When she did write
back, she said she knew all along that Longo was truly guilty, but that she was
still furious that he’d lied to her — and not just about the murders. He had
been lying the whole time, in letter after letter, about detail after detail.
The relationship had to end, she said, which left Longo without an outlet for
his newfound altruism. He decided to shift his focus to a broader cause,
convincing prison officials to change the rules not just for him but
systemwide, allowing inmates to donate their organs after being executed, he
Meeting the imposter
But this part of the story is muddied as well by another relationship Longo
developed in prison, with the man whose identity he stole in order to pass
himself off as a globe-trotting journalist when he fled to Mexico after killing
The writer’s name was Michael Finkel, who was fired from The New York Times for
fabricating a character in a story.
Finkel, like Wilson, also found himself fascinated with Longo, and over the
next several years the two exchanged a thousand pages of letters. Finkel
visited Longo 10 times.
In a 2009 article about Longo in Esquire magazine, Finkel wrote that it wasn’t
a dying woman who inspired Longo’s quest but a Will Smith film, “Seven Pounds,”
about a man who kills his fiance and six others in a car accident and then
kills himself so he can donate his organs to people in need.
“The movie, Longo said, felt like a punch in the gut,” Finkel wrote. “It made
him weep. For years, he said, he’d sat in jail wondering how he could do
anything worthwhile, anything at all to help even one person, rather than just
rot away on death row.
“The movie gave him an answer. He would carve himself up.”
There was no mention of Shawna Wilson. It was the movie that made Longo rethink
everything, Finkel wrote.
Finkel didn’t return phone calls from The Register-Guard.
Prison officials flatly refused to consider Longo’s request to change the rules
and let him donate his organs after the execution. So Longo concocted a new
plan: He’d find a way to kill himself, quietly stockpiling enough of just the
right drugs to induce a coma from which he’d never awake but which would not
ruin his organs for transplant.
Last January, Longo did try to kill himself with his stockpiled drugs. He also
tried to make it clear to the prison through advanced directives delivered both
by his attorneys and by Wilson that he did not want to be resuscitated.
But prison officials ignored the inmate’s wishes and saved his life.
“I woke up to a Department of Corrections officer over my head, saying ‘You
failed.’?” Longo said.
That left him with no choice, he said, but to pursue broader, institution-wide
“Organ donation just makes sense,” he said. “It doesn’t have anything to do
with me redeeming myself.”
He began by trying to change the system from within, writing letters to prison
officials, he said, but quickly decided it would take a more public campaign to
get the rules changed. He was surprised The New York Times ran his essay, he
said, but has since been bathing in publicity, from Oregon television stations
to MSNBC to inquiries from documentary film producers in the United States and
Longo’s message in these interviews has been that there are nearly 112,000
people in the United States on waiting lists for organ transplants. There are
nearly 2 million prisoners incarcerated throughout the country. If 1 % of them
became living donors, that would double the number of organ donations in the
United States, Longo wrote in The New York Times.
“If I donated all of my organs today, I could clear nearly 1 percent of my
state’s organ waiting list,” Longo wrote. “I am 37 years old and healthy;
throwing my organs away after I am executed is nothing but a waste.”
Longo has found an unlikely supporter — Shawna Wilson.
When Christian Longo tried to take his own life, in a way that would leave his
organs fit for transplant, it was the one authentic, irrefutable thing he had
ever tried to do, she said.
“That was the light switch for me,” she said.
She’s now considering becoming the spokeswoman for Longo’s organization, GAVE,
which stands for Gifts of Anatomical Value for Everyone. She is the one who
posts messages on behalf of Longo and the organization, on both the killer’s
personal Facebook page and GAVE’s, after he calls or writes her a letter and
tells her what to say.
“My fiance’s niece just died; she needed a double lung transplant,” Wilson
said. “(My fiance) said ‘I don’t care who, if it was Hitler’s lungs, I would
have taken them.’?”
Plan has its supporters
Wilson calls Longo’s efforts his “hobby,” something to occupy all that time
alone in cell No. 313. To her, it’s perfectly plausible that this effort is
sincere, despite all the other lies Longo has told. And she’s not the only one
who believes Longo’s idea is a good one. GAVE’s Facebook page has 857 fans, and
many of them are rooting for Longo’s plan.
“To condemn this man’s desire to give the gift of life to others, whether his
intentions are truly noble or not, is despicable,” Brennan Kaye wrote in a
recent post. “He, just as well as everyone else, knows that this will not right
his wrongs. It will not bring back his family, it will not make him any less
selfish or any more forgiven.... These units of flesh are universal; they are
what enable us to be who we are, and not everyone is blessed with working
“To condemn the donation of perfectly good organs from another because of who
they came from is essentially you agreeing that the people on donor waiting
lists do not deserve a chance at life because of one man’s choices.”
But while Wilson may be converted, the friends and family of Longo’s victims
“I think he just craves the attention, and if he isn’t in the media for a long
period of time he wants to make sure he’s in the media again,” said Lincoln
County Detective Trish Miller, who investigated the Longo murders. “I don’t
think he’s going to change the system, but he’s done a good job at damaging
that family. What this does is every time they think they can let it go and
maybe start to heal, he rips the Band-Aid off the wound again. I just find that
“Chris is not a hero; he is a murderer of his family. As a family, we have
never had the chance to completely heal because we are constantly dealing
(with) and battling a man who shouldn’t even be living on this earth any
longer. He has taken a group of people that are so desperate to save the lives
of themselves or their loved ones that they will praise and support a convicted
Longo remains undaunted, however.
“I’m going to keep trying,” he said, “until I’m blue in the face.”
(source: The Register-Guard)
SB 490: Let the Voters Make an Informed Decision
No one is surprised to learn that California’s death penalty is a broken and
dysfunctional system. After all, you don’t have to go far in California to find
any government bureaucracy that’s broken or dysfunctional – it’s finding a
functional government program that might take a while. The question is: How do
we fix it? How do we punish the worst criminals in a way that maximizes public
safety without bankrupting the budget?
A new bill in the California State Senate, SB 490, has a shockingly simple
solution: give voters the facts and let the voters decide. (The shock is that
it’s taken 30 years to figure that out.)
In 1978, when California voters first reinstated the death penalty, no one knew
how much it would cost. No one knew how long executions would take, how many
attorneys would be required to prosecute and defend the appeals, how large a
facility would be needed to house death row inmates – in short, no one knew
what a big, expensive mess it would be.
33 years later, we know. We now know that the death penalty is a hollow promise
to victims’ family members. These families wait 25 years– on average– for
resolution to a death sentence. 99% of those sentenced to die are never
executed and die from old age or sickness instead.
And we know from empirical research that the death penalty costs vastly more
than the alternative of life without parole – $184 million every year. We also
know from common sense that public safety improves when money is used for real
solutions, like law enforcement officers on the street or violence prevention
and education in schools.
Don Heller is the man behind the 1978 initiative to reinstate the death
penalty. The Don Heller of 2011, however, acknowledges that he simply didn’t
know enough 33 years ago. No one in California, including him, had the
experience or foresight to predict such a dismal failure. In 2011, even Don
Heller supports SB 490 to replace the death penalty. He thinks California
voters will too — once they know the facts.
SB 490 will give voters the option of replacing the death penalty with life
without parole. If passed, it will save us $1 billion over the next 5 years.
It’s often assumed that voters strongly support the death penalty, but people
are rarely asked if they really think it’s worth a billion dollars. With the
real-world costs and real-world solutions laid plainly on the table, California
voters must decide once and for all if the death penalty is really the most
efficient use of those dollars.
Here are some other things California could invest in. For the cost of 1
execution ($308 million), California taxpayers could afford to:
Provide a complete K-12 education, including food and transportation, for 2,865
Pay for a 4-year Cal State education for 14,569 college students.
Cover the average middle-income cost of raising 1,385 children from birth to
Sign Alexander Rodriguez to the Dodgers for 11.2 years.
For the annual cost of the death penalty system ($184 million per year),
California taxpayers could afford to:
Hire 3,579 new police officers.
Hire 3,407 new fire fighters.
Shut down and remodel the 405 freeway a la “Carmageddon” every 5 years.
(source: James Clark is the Death Penalty Field Organizer for the ACLU of
Southern California; California Progress Report)
LA prosecutors to seek death penalty in ‘Grim Sleeper’ serial killing case
Prosecutors said Monday they will seek the death penalty against a man accused
of the “Grim Sleeper” serial killings of prostitutes and other women who were
shot, strangled or both over several decades in Los Angeles.
The announcement came as capital punishment is coming under increasing fire in
California for lengthy delays in executions and for the expenses involved in
winning cases, fighting appeals and keeping inmates on death row.
Deputy District Attorney Beth Silverman told a court her office will ask a jury
for the state’s harshest sentence if 58-year-old Lonnie Franklin Jr. is
Franklin has pleaded not guilty to the murders of 10 women and 1 count of
Most of the victims linked to the “Grim Sleeper” were found in alleyways within
a few miles of Franklin’s home south of downtown Los Angeles. Those victims
were killed after some kind of sexual contact.
The killings got their name because of a long gap between some of the deaths,
which began in the 1980s and extended into the 2000s.
Franklin, a mechanic, was arrested in July 2010 and indicted.
Police have also been investigating him in connection with other murders.
Prosecutors were granted the right to take a voice sample from Franklin.
Outside court, they said they want to compare it to the voice heard on 2 911
Detective Dennis Kilcoyne spoke to a group of relatives of victims at the
courthouse and said the death penalty is “almost a non-issue” in California
because it takes so long for convicts to be executed.
“In 20 to 25 years, when it comes up, many of us won’t be on this planet
anymore,” he said.
Last month, a state Senate bill that seeks to abolish California’s death
penalty advanced after its 1st legislative hearing in the Assembly. Now
awaiting action in a committee, the bill would put the question before voters
in 2012 if it is passed.
A recent study by a federal appellate judge and a university law professor
found California taxpayers spend $184 million annually to try death penalty
cases, defend the state through appeals and incarcerate condemned inmates. Most
of the 714 condemned inmates on the nation’s most populous death row are more
likely to die of old age than lethal injection, the study found.
The researchers calculated that capital punishment has cost California $4
billion since it was reinstated 34 years ago, yet just 13 inmates have been
executed — none in the past 5 years.
(source: Associated Press)
More information about the DeathPenalty