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News Scan


The Cunningham fix bill passed the California Senate yesterday 32-2 and was sent to the Governator, Andy Furillo reports for the SactoBee. SF Dem Carole Migden joined Tom McClintock as the odd bedfellow this time. Meanwhile, "The anti-prison lobby waded into the Capitol on Wednesday to decry Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's plan to build more housing space for an additional 78,000 inmates in state and county facilities in coming years."

Execution: After decades of failed attempts by the government to execute Chicago mobster Robert Cruz, his enemies apparently took care of the job. An Associated Press story reports that construction workers dug up Cruz's body while laying a sewer pipe. Cruz, who disappeared in 1997, spent 14 years on Arizona's death row on a murder-for-hire conviction that was overturned in 1980. Four subsequent attempts to convict him failed.

Pot Houses: Another California trend spreading across the country: suburban houses transformed into indoor marijuana farms, Errin Haines reports for AP.

Texas Execution: Air Force Capt. Jose Renato Cobo was murdered 10 years ago by two young men who wanted his Mazda RX-7 for parts. Justice was finally carried out yesterday for one of the two, Maro Robbins of the San Antonio Express-News reports. The unrepentant killer, Vincent Gutierrez, "strutted past news cameras and sneered, 'I didn't do a damn thing.'"

"'Cold as always,' Ruben Cobo [Jose's brother] said afterward of the inmate. 'He got off easy.'"


RE: Robert Charles Cruz. He has long been on the Death Penalty Information Center's Exoneration list. However, there was no actual showing that he was not the actual perpetrator of the murder for hire. His death now is ironic, given the fact that his first conviction was reversed because evidence was admitted of his involvement with organized crime! State v. Cruz, 672 P.2d 470 (Ariz. 1983); State v. Cruz, 857 P.2d 1249 (Ariz. 1993).

Cruz’s eligibility for the DPIC List is also speculative because he was acquitted after several reversals of his convictions and sentences for evidentiary error at trial. Prior to his acquittal, he had been nearly convicted in two mistrials and had been convicted twice. His first conviction was reversed because evidence of his ties to organized crime and other violent activities was erroneously admitted at trial and because his defense counsel refused to participate in the trial on grounds that the judge was biased against Cruz. The second conviction was reversed because of jury selection error.

The jurors who ultimately acquitted Cruz explained their verdict as a matter of “reasonable doubt”. “Jurors admitted that they had doubts as soon as they voted unanimously for acquittal, with some saying they walked into the courtroom with aching stomachs. Some said they were consoled by the thought that if Cruz was involved, he had spent nearly 15 years in prison.” Hardly a ringing endorsement of Cruz’s actual innocence. Arizona Republic (6/2/95); Phoenix Gazette (6/2/95, 11/7/87).

No doubt that DPIC will scratch Cruz from their list of innocents.

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