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Articles Tagged with death penalty

Scott Peterson became a well-known name when he was convicted of murdering his pregnant wife Laci in 2002. He was facing the death penalty for the murder. Recently, the California Supreme Court overturned his death penalty sentence. According to Justice Leondra Kruger, the trial judge dismissed jurors who were opposed to capital punishment. Discharging prospective jurors was not the right course of action. What should have happened is that these individuals should have been questioned further on their views.

 

The highest court in the state still maintained the guilty verdict of Peterson’s trial and indicated that prosecutors retained the ability to retry him for the death penalty. Not only did Peterson bring up the unfair removal of some jurors, but he also said that the immense amount of publicity that was put on his case before he went to trial precluded fairness. His trial was actually moved to San Mateo County because a judge said that there was no way he could see a fair trial if it took place in Modesto. Peterson’s lawyer said that there still was no fairness in San Mateo County, where a substantial number of jurors interviewed said that they believed he was guilty. For this reason, his trial should have been moved again to an area where there was not such rampant bias.

 

Despite the arguments surrounding the trial’s publicity, the court said that it would be difficult to find an area that had not already heard about the case so continually moving it would not have made a difference. The amount of attention that Peterson’s trial received was on the level of O.J. Simpson and the Manson family. 

 

Prosecutors are determining what course of action to take. They have not come to a decision on whether they will try him again for the death penalty or just allow him to be sentenced to life without the possibility of parole. One of the considerations that is going to factor into their decision will be the opinions of Laci’s family.

 

The Disappearance of Laci Peterson

 

Laci Peterson was 27 and only a month away from her due date when she went missing on Christmas Eve. According to Scott Peterson, he was fishing in Berkeley at the time of her disappearance. A search for her went on for four months, until a portion of her body and that of her unborn son was spotted by a passerby who was out on a walk. They were found on the rocky shore only a few miles from the location Scott Peterson said he was fishing. Laci’s family was supportive of Scott initially, not suspecting him. But when his mistress, Amber Frey came forward and admitted that she was dating him, that changed. Scott appeared to try to flee but authorities found him in San Diego county with bleached hair and $15,000, where they arrested him.

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Police have begun a homicide investigation after the body of a deceased male was found in a downtown San Diego high-rise apartment on Monday, January 20. According to the San Diego Police, officers were called out to the scene at Vantage Pointe apartments in the 1200 block of Ninth Avenue by a security guard who worked at the apartment building along with another individual who found the deceased man’s body in one of the apartment units.

The deceased man was identified by the police as a white man in his late 40s. The man had visible trauma to his body. Police believe that the incident appeared suspicious and then determined that it was in fact a homicide. The authorities are looking for information from the public and are urging anyone who has any details to call Crimestoppers.

Homicide Data in San Diego

According to UCR Crimes by GeoArea, from January to August of 2019 there were 31 murders in San Diego. In 1950, there were 10 recorded murders. By 2018, there were 35 murders. That is a steep jump, but the murders recorded in 2018 were not nearly as high as they were in 1991. In 1991 there were 167 murders.

Between January and June of 2019, there were 5,545 violent crimes in San Diego County. This comes out to approximately 31 violent crimes committed each day during that six-month span. Violent crimes include homicide, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault. In the first half of 2018, there were 604 homicides in the city. The good news is that compared with the data from 2009, 2019 had a 19% lower violent crime rate.

In California, capital murder is the most serious charge a person can face. Punishment can include:

  • The death penalty by way of the gas chamber or lethal injection 
  • Life in prison without the possibility of parole

First-degree murder in the state falls under California Penal Code 187, and someone charged could be facing the following:

  • 25 years to life in state prison 
  • Hate crime first-degree murder comes with life in state prison without the possibility of parole 

Capital murder and first-degree murder are charges not to be taken lightly. If you are arrested for either, you are looking at many years in prison, if not the death penalty. There is no room for error when you are facing murder charges in California. The qualified and experienced legal representation from David M. Boertje, a San Diego criminal defense lawyer, will ensure that you have the best defense team on your side protecting your legal rights. Continue reading

The State of California has not executed an individual since 2006, when its capital punishment procedures relating to lethal injections were declared unconstitutional by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, in Morales v. Tilton, 465 F.Supp. 2d 972 (N.D. Cal 2006). California authorizes capital punishment by gas or lethal injection. The state will continue to hold off on executions for capital crimes.

Governor Issues Moratorium on Executions

Two weeks ago, the Governor of California announced the statewide suspension of death penalty executions, granting a temporary reprieve to the 737 inmates currently on death row. California voters have rejected two initiatives to repeal the death penalty — Proposition 62 in 2016 and Proposition 34 in 2012. Instead, they voted to accelerate the death row appeals process in 2016 with the passage of Proposition 66.

Lethal Injection Procedures Declared Unconstitutional in 2006

The Ninth Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals, in the Morales case, found California’s death penalty procedures relating to lethal injections flawed. At issue was the drug recipe that was used for the lethal injections. The three-drug compound that made up the lethal injection dose could lead to suffering and an agonizing death if it was not administered carefully, resulting in a violation of the Eight Amendment to the U.S. Constitution’s cruel and unusual punishment clause.

According to BBC reporting, the death penalty is legal in 30 states, including California. Since 1976, California has executed 13 death row inmates. 737 executions remain outstanding, representing the most number of prisoners on death row in the court. Overall 2,738 inmates are on death row nationwide.

As part of the settlement of the Morales case, the state was ordered to submit new procedures for execution by lethal injection. Theoretically, if the court approved the new procedures, executions could resume. The Governor rescinded the lethal injection protocol and closed the San Quentin execution chamber concurrent with his announcement. Continue reading

It is reported that California is easing back into executions for convicted criminals on death row, after not having executed anyone in over a decade. California has a sordid history with the death penalty. The process is extremely delayed, with inmates waiting on death row for decades before dying of natural causes instead of being executed. The state has held no executions since 2006, and only 13 since the death penalty was reinstated in 1978. However, the list of death row inmates is twice as many as any other states, up to 749.

California voters voted for Proposition 66 last November, which would keep the death penalty intact and also reform the state’s capital punishment system by speeding up executions. In 2012, voters also rejected Proposition 34 and Proposition 62 in 2016, which would have permanently repealed the state’s death penalty. Voters in a few Southern California counties are also electing district attorneys who put more people on death row. The people of California have definitely spoken: They want to speed up death row, not eliminate it, despite the data that shows it is racially discriminatory. However, it would take an execution a day, every day, for the next two years in order to empty the state’s death row backlog.

Crimes Eligible for Capital Punishment in California

There are several statutes that touch on capital punishment in the California Penal Code. CA Penal Code § 187 addresses “special circumstances murder” which includes:

  • More than one murder conviction;
  • Murder by bomb or poison;
  • Murder of a cop;
  • Murder involving torture;
  • Murder involving gang activity; and
  • Murder involving another serious felony (ie. rape).

California law also provides for the death penalty if you are convicted of:

  • Treason against the state;
  • Perjury causing the execution of another innocent person;
  • Intentionally interfering with preparations of war.

Lastly, CA Penal Code § 190.3 sets out a list of aggravating factors that allow a jury to determine whether a defendant should get the death penalty. For example, juries may consider the circumstances of a crime, such as if the acts were particularly egregious. They can also consider other past violent criminal activity that is not connected with the crime at hand (ie. domestic violence).     Continue reading

As I mentioned last month, the recent Supreme Court ruling upholding the constitutionality of a drug called Midalozam for use in lethal injection has brought the debate about the death penalty in California back into the spotlight. Back in 2006, a district judge stopped all death-row executions in the state (citing the delays in the system as being unconstitutional), and now California has the largest death row backlog in the nation. Now the topic of California’s death penalty has come up again – this time not in the context of the type of drugs that may be used, but to the original debate of wait time that an inmate faces while on death row in the state.

Last year, U.S. District Judge Cormac Carney explicitly ruled that California’s death penalty system was unconstitutional in Jones v. Chappel, smiting the long wait that comes before execution. California Attorney General Kamila Harris appealed this decision and seeks to overturn it. As a result, on August 31, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals will hear the oral arguments over the constitutionality of the death penalty in Jones v. Davis.

The Delayed Process

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