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And Then There Were 15

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There are now 15 murderers on California's death row who have completed all the normal appeals, i.e. through denial of certiorari on the federal habeas petition.  A description of the cases is here.  The U.S. Supreme Court today declined to take up the case of William Charles Payton.  Twice before, the Ninth Circuit had overturned Payton's death sentence only to have those rulings vacated by the high court.  The third time was the charm.

One of the 15 has an Atkins retardation claim pending.  (Prosecutors tell me its meritless.)  The other 14, more than the total number California has executed from the restoration of capital punishment to the present, are being held up solely by the lethal injection litigation.

We could start setting dates tomorrow if Jerry Brown and his prison chief, Matthew Cate, would get off their duffs and do their jobs.  The single-drug method is well established, and the federal court has ruled twice that California can proceed with it.  The Legislature has granted CDCR a special authority to adopt temporary regulations, without jumping through the Administrative Procedure Act hoops, simply by declaring an "operational need."

Brown promised in his gubernatorial campaign he would enforce the death penalty.  Get off your duff and keep your promise, Mr. Brown.

The Supreme Court opinion in Payton's case from last round is here.  I have copied the facts of the crime from that opinion after the jump.
In 1980, while spending the night at a boarding house, Payton raped another boarder, Pamela Montgomery, and then used a butcher knife to stab her to death. Payton proceeded to enter the bedroom of the house's patron, Patricia Pensinger and to stab her as she slept aside her 10-year-old son, Blaine. When Blaine resisted, Payton started to stab him as well. Payton's knife blade bent, and he went to the kitchen to retrieve another. Upon the intervention of other boarders, Payton dropped the second knife and fled.

Payton was arrested and tried for the first-degree murder and rape of Pamela Montgomery and for the attempted murders of Patricia and Blaine Pensinger. Payton presented no evidence in the guilt phase of the trial and was convicted on all counts. The trial proceeded to the penalty phase, where the prosecutor introduced evidence of a prior incident when Payton stabbed a girlfriend; a prior conviction for rape; a prior drug-related felony conviction; and evidence of jailhouse conversations in which Payton admitted he had an "urge to kill" and a "severe problem with sex and women" that caused him to view all women as potential victims to "stab ... and rape." People v. Payton, 3 Cal. 4th 1050, 1058, 839 P. 2d 1035, 1040 (1992) (internal quotation marks omitted).

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The cruelty of Jerry Brown to the victims' families (and the surviving victims) knows no bounds. He is truly an evil man for putting these poor people through the hell of uncertainty.

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