Saturday, March 16, 2019

The Death Penalty Debate Rages On...

Charles Manson, Rose Bird, Caryl Chessman and California’s wrenching death penalty debate

A worker completes installation of the new gas chamber at San Quentin State Prison in 1938. A federal court decision forced California to close the gas chamber in 1996. (Los Angeles Times)

Charles Manson, Rose Bird, Caryl Chessman and CaliforniaĆ¢€™s wrenching death penalty debate

MAR 16, 2019 | 3:00 AM
One of Elisabeth Semel’s earliest memories of the death penalty in California was the 1960 execution of Caryl Chessman. She remembers seeing her father upset.
She became a criminal defense lawyer and went on to defend inmates convicted of capital crimes, running a death penalty clinic at UC Berkeley.
Kent Scheidegger, a former commercial lawyer, was inspired to join the fight for the death penalty after voters ousted California Chief Justice Rose Bird and two colleagues in 1986 for overturning death sentences.
He said the courts were thwarting the people’s will and he joined a pro-death penalty group to persuade judges to uphold death sentences.  
Advocates and others on both sides went on to endure decades of frustration in California’s wrenching wars over the death penalty.
This week, Gov. Gavin Newsom put his own imprint on the saga, declaring a moratorium on executions while he was in office. But the death penalty remains lawful in California, and neither side is ready yet to lay down arms.
The battle started with a 1972 California Supreme Court decision that declared the state’s death penalty unconstitutional. The decision spared the lives of Charles MansonSirhan Sirhan and more than 100 others.
Supporters of the death penalty gradually resurrected the law to pass constitutional muster, and California juries have condemned scores of people to die.
Bird and two other Democratic appointees to the Supreme Court were replaced with conservatives, and the newly formed court routinely upheld death sentences.

Stanley Tookie Williams, a former L.A. gang leader convicted of killing four people, was executed despite pleas from activists including actor Mike Farrell. In prison he wrote books urging young people to reject gangs.
Stanley Tookie Williams, a former L.A. gang leader convicted of killing four people, was executed despite pleas from activists including actor Mike Farrell. In prison he wrote books urging young people to reject gangs. (Associated Press)
The state’s execution logjam broke with the 1992 lethal gassing of Robert Alton Harris, who had killed two teenage boys in San Diego. It was the state’s first execution in 25 years.
Another death row inmate, David Mason, was executed in the gas chamber the following year.
Then a federal court decision in 1996 forced the state to close the gas chamber and execute by lethal injection. Later that year, serial killer William Bonin died by the needle, four years after Harris. Executions continued sporadically.
By the time Republican appointee Ronald M. George was California’s chief justice, there was a massive backlog of death penalty appeals. The cost to the state of trying the cases and handling the appeals was crushing.
George, a former prosecutor who had previously defended California’s death penalty, declared the system “dysfunctional.” An inmate on death row was more likely to die from old age than execution, he said.
In all, 13 inmates have been executed in California since the restoration of the death penalty. More than 100 condemned inmates have died of natural causes or suicide during that time.
A state commission determined that the death penalty would work in California only if the state put in a massive infusion of money.
No one seemed inclined to provide that kind of money, but the death penalty remained on the books and death row began running out of room.
Actor Mike Farrell, a death penalty abolitionist, spent many execution nights outside San Quentin State Prison as peaceful protesters held candles and sang hymns.
He met with two California death row inmates before their executions, including Stanley Tookie Williams in 2005.

Actor and anti-death penalty activist Mike Farrell speaking at a 2016 news conference in support of Proposition 62, which would have outlawed capital punishment in California.
Actor and anti-death penalty activist Mike Farrell speaking at a 2016 news conference in support of Proposition 62, which would have outlawed capital punishment in California. (Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)
Williams, a former Los Angeles gang leader, was convicted of killing four people. In prison he wrote books for young people urging them to eschew gangs.
Farrell also met with then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, another actor, to plead for Williams’ life.
“I just don’t understand the point in killing this man,” Farrell recalled telling Schwarzenegger. “If you commit him to life in prison without parole, he can keep doing the work he is doing with kids.”
Schwarzenegger said Williams had to admit guilt and express remorse, Farrell said. Williams insisted he did not commit the murders and died by lethal injection.
Another inmate was executed before a federal judge in Northern California decided in 2006 that the state’s three-drug method of execution violated the U.S. Constitution. The lethal cocktail exposed inmates to the risk of cruel and unusual suffering, the judge found.
No one has been executed in California since that decision.
“We would have had 20 executions between then and now had it not been for that ruling,” Scheidegger said.
Supporters of capital punishment managed in recent years to defeat two ballot measures to abolish the death penalty and won narrow passage in 2016 of a measure intended to speed up executions.
Gov. Jerry Brown, who personally opposes the death penalty, played no role in the campaigns. His last two terms in office exasperated both supporters and opponents of capital punishment.
Scheidegger said he believed that Brown, who as governor oversaw the department in charge of executions, stymied their resumption by moving extremely slowly to devise an execution protocol. At one point, Scheidegger sued Brown to force action.
Semel called those years a time of “deep disappointment.” Both Brown and Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris, now a candidate for president, said they personally opposed the death penalty but “didn’t do anything about it,” Semel said.
“Those are the things that stick with me,” she said.

Gov. Gavin Newsom at a news conference Wednesday announcing a moratorium on California's death penalty.
Gov. Gavin Newsom at a news conference Wednesday announcing a moratorium on California's death penalty. (Justin Sullivan / Getty Images)
On Monday, Farrell went to Sacramento to meet with Newsom and other opponents of the death penalty.
“This is what I am going to do,” he said Newsom told the group.
Newsom said he would meet with capital punishment supporters to discuss his plans the following day. Farrell told the governor his decision was “true heroism.”
“Most of the governors who do this sort of thing do it at the end of their terms, not at at the beginning,” Farrell said. “He said, ‘No, this is the right time.’ I was blown away.”
News broke late Tuesday that Newsom was using his power of reprieve to place a moratorium on executions.
Scheidegger was livid. He agreed that Newsom had the right to grant reprieves to condemned inmates, but accused him of “flagrantly violating” the law by withdrawing an execution protocol and shutting down the death chamber.
Sacramento County Dist. Atty. Anne Marie Schubert, who had campaigned to keep the death penalty and speed it up, said that when she heard the news she thought of a mother whose young son was tortured and sodomized for 10 hours before he was stabbed more than 40 times. His killer was on death row.
She also thought of Marc Klass, who “has waited a quarter of a century” to see the killer of his daughter, Polly, 12, executed. Newsom gave him “less than 24 hours’ notice” of his decision, Schubert said
Farrell watched Newsom’s news conference on television. He said he cried.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

William writes:

Crime Scene Discrepancies

Ed Sanders in his book The Family said that there were considerable discrepancies between the crime scene described by Tex, Linda, Susan, and Katie and what the police found in the morning.

1. Face towel over the head of Jay Sebring. Susan Atkins gave long detailed accounts to anybody who would listen about every aspect of the crime, yet neither she nor evidently the others tucked a face towel over the head of Sebring.

2. The rope extending from Sharon Tate to Jay Sebring. According to Atkins, Sharon stood and moved around the room, yet she did not mention anyone fixing the rope.

3. The steamer trunks in the living room. Located by the hall door they were knocked over during the night. There was a stain of blood on both trunks. It was Sebring’s blood, yet the killers said he was shot, stabbed and killed in one spot and never moved.

4. The glasses. Belonging to a severely myopic person, they were near the steamer trunks face down with the ear frames sticking up.

5. Two large pools of blood on the front porch. The one to the left of the door mat was Sharon Tate’s. The other one on the north edge of the porch was Sebring’s. Yet according to Linda, Susan, and Katie neither Tate nor Sebring ever left the house.

6. Spatters of blood from Sharon in the front hall and on the door sill. While the four perpetrators were on the estate, Sharon was never in the hall.

The above discrepancies show that a second entry was made into the house. According to Sanders, Manson told a lawyer at the trial that he and a companion returned to the scene of the crime “to see what my children did.”

Best wishes,

William Weston

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Riot at Tex's Prison

Nearly 50 inmates riot at Donovan state prison in Otay Mesa
Nearly 50 inmates riot at Donovan state prison in Otay Mesa
A guard tower at the Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility in Otay Mesa, where a riot erupted Friday that left 10 inmates injured, officials said. (Howard Lipin / The San Diego-Union-Tribune file photo)

FEB 15, 2019

Ten inmates were injured — at least one seriously — when nearly 50 inmates rioted Friday morning at a state prison in Otay Mesa, state prison officials said.

Shortly before 9 a.m., several fights broke out in the Facility A yard at Robert J. Donovan Correctional Facility, California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation officials said in a news release.

The facility houses inmates classified as medium-security risks, and they were in the outdoor yard for their morning recreation.

Corrections officers quelled the riot with pepper spray after inmates ignored multiple requests to stop fighting, the department said.

No lethal force was used to break up the melee, which took about three minutes to halt, prison Capt. Philip Bracamonte said.

Ten inmates were taken to hospitals. One suffered serious head injuries and was flown to a hospital by helicopter, the department said.

Three of the inmates sustained “major trauma,” and the rest had “minor trauma,” Patrick Walker, battalion chief with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, told OnScene TV.

None of the correctional officers were hurt. Staffers exposed to pepper spray were treated at the prison.

Prison officials said multiple “inmate-manufactured weapons” — commonly known as shanks — had been found at the scene.

Facility A houses about 640 inmates, Bracamonte said, but he was not able to say how many were in the rec yard when the trouble started.

The captain said the investigation will include inmate interviews “to determine if there was any tension on the facility and what may have led up to this riot.”

The riot marks the second time the prison has been in the news this week. According to a federal complaint unsealed Wednesday, a prison employee has been arrested on suspicion of smuggling cellphones into the facility in exchange for about $13,000 in bribes.

In December, two inmates were stabbed when about two dozen inmates rioted in a maximum-security yard.

The 32-year-old prison houses about 3,800 inmates, who are classified at security levels of minimum, medium and maximum, and employs 1,850 people.

Friday, February 1, 2019

Charles Manson Follower Leslie Van Houten Granted Parole

Thursday, January 3, 2019


Lynyrd Weighs-in:

I found a document published by the California Department of Corrections (2011) which gives a statistical breakdown of actual prison time served by inmates.

The statistics are broken-down by specific crime... i.e., 1st degree murder, manslaughter, rape, etc.

In short, it states the mean/median time served by an inmate (for a specific crime) before they are first paroled.

According to the document, inmates convicted of first degree murder (pre 11-8-78) serve an average of 408 months in California, before they are released on parole.

408 months = 34 years

Extrapolate what you will from those figures, but statistics are hard to dispute.

Post 11-8-78, the average first degree murderer serves 344 months in California, which translates to 28.5 years.

I'm not a fan of Bobby, and personally, I'd have no problem seeing him die in jail.
He has a smug attitude, which I find repelling.

However, I'm also a firm believer that punishment should be carried-out in a consistent manner. People perpetrating similar crimes, should serve similar sentences.

If we feel that our justice system is being too lenient on crime (in general), we should enact laws which are tougher (across the board) on EVERYONE.

I think it's pretty safe to conclude (at this point) that being associated with "the Manson Family" (and the notoriety that entails), creates obstacles for Bobby, Bruce and Leslie (in terms of parole) that the average (unknown) inmate will never know.

Common sense and statistical data seem to support that conclusion.

I guess, how one feels about this apparent "double standard" situation, depends largely upon one's personal feelings towards Bobby, versus their feelings regarding consistency in punishment.

At any rate, here's the PDF document:

As I said previously, extrapolate what you will...


Yours Truly,

Lynyrd Skynyrd

Friday, December 14, 2018

Manson Estate controversy continues...

LA Times:

Man who says he's Charles Manson's grandson won't voluntarily submit to DNA test

DEC 14, 2018 | 11:35 AM

Man who says he's Charles Manson's grandson won't voluntarily submit to DNA test

A 43-year-old Florida man who says he is Charles Manson’s grandson told a judge Friday he will not submit to a DNA test to determine the validity of his claim unless ordered to do so by the court.

Jason Freeman said he would not voluntarily agree to the test sought by longtime Manson pen pal Michael Channels. Channels’ lawyer, Theodore Theodosiadis, told Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Clifford Klein that he will bring a motion to obtain the sample.

Freeman, wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with “Be The Change,” explained after the hearing his reason for not wanting to voluntarily grant Channels’ request.

“There are people on the other side who are trying to build up a case against me,” said Freeman, adding that he will take the test if the judge orders it because he is convinced of his relationship to Manson.

“To me, it’s an open-and-shut case,” Freeman said. “All my life that’s the way I grew up. That’s all I’ve known.'

Meanwhile, Klein extended until June 21 attorney Dale Kiken’s role as temporary special administrator role over the mass killer’s estate. Kiken originally was appointed to the role on Aug. 28, giving him authority to protect Freeman’s interests, but the term was scheduled to expire Friday.

Kiken is tasked with recovering property, on behalf of Freeman, that the cult leader left behind in prison when he died Nov. 19, 2017, at age 83. The notorious killer died at Bakersfield Mercy Hospital of heart failure triggered by colon cancer that had spread to other areas of his body.

Kiken told the judge that he has already obtained boxes of Manson’s belongings from Corcoran State Prison, but that he has not gone through the items yet, nor does he know their potential value.

“I would guess those are some difficult items to appraise” Klein said.

Klein ordered that redacted documents Theodosiadis obtained from the prison by subpoena be kept under seal and viewable only by lawyers and investigators in the case. Kiken’s lawyer, Alan Davis, said he does not know what information is in the paperwork Theodosiadis obtained.

Freeman said he is unaware of the nature of the items Kiken obtained from the prison, but that the potential value of the property is not as important to him as the spiritual peace he has reached with himself.

“I’m [happy] in my life finally at age 43,” Freeman said. “I know I’m going to go home and go back to work.'”

Freeman said he has four children and works in construction. He said he also trains people in martial arts.

He won a significant court victory when a Kern County commissioner ruled in March that he was entitled to Manson’s remains. Freeman and Kiken maintain that a 2002 Manson will Channels alleges he possesses is a forgery. Channels said the will, filed in Kern County in November 2017, names him the executor of Manson’s estate.

A trial on the competing petitions by Kiken and Channels to be the estate’s permanent administrator has not been set.

Article submitted by Lee.