Sacramento Bee: Kenneth Starr to assist death row clemency bid
Kenneth Starr, the special prosecutor who urged the impeachment of former President Clinton, is helping prepare the clemency petition for convicted murderer Michael Angelo Morales.
“He is clearly interested in this issue and has decided to take on the case,” Stella Richardson, a spokeswoman for the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California, said of Starr.
Morales, 46, was condemned to death for the 1981 rape and murder of Terri Lynn Winchell in Lodi.
Starr could not be reached for comment Thursday. An ACLU press release said Starr is getting involved in the Morales case because the condemned inmate “immediately took responsibility for his actions, was distraught with remorse and has made impressive and consistent efforts to atone for his crime while in prison.”
The dean of the Pepperdine University law school and a practicing attorney for the Los Angeles firm of Kirkland & Ellis, Starr “was also involved in the last clemency petition granted” in Virginia by Democratic Gov. Mark Warner on Nov. 29, Richardson said. The lead defense attorney on the Morales case is Los Angeles lawyer David Senior.
The inmate’s clemency petition is scheduled to be filed today with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. Morales’ execution has been scheduled for Feb. 21.
Not another clemency hearing for California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Let’s look at Morales’ crime(s):
In late 1980, Ortega told Glenda Chavez that he was angry at Winchell for
accusing him of being a homosexual and for her calling him “gay.” Ortega and
his cousin, Michael Angelo Morales, 21, plotted to murder her as “pay back” for
In the weeks before the murder, Ortega set up a ruse to trick Winchell into
believing that he wanted to make amends and become her friend. In the
meantime, Morales “practiced” how he was going to strangle Winchell and on the
day of the murder told his girlfriend, Racquel Cardenas, how he was going to do
Ortega a favor and strangle and “hurt” someone.
On January 8, 1981, Ortega called Morales and told him he was driving Winchell
to Morales’ apartment. Ortega lured Winchell into accompanying him and
Morales in Ortega’s car to a remote area near Lodi, California. There, Morales
attacked Winchell from behind and tried to strangle her with his belt. Winchell
struggled and the belt broke in two. Morales then took out a hammer and
repeatedly hit her in the head with it. She screamed for Ortega to help and tried
to fight off the attack, ripping her own hair out of her scalp in the struggle.
Morales beat Winchell into unconsciousness, crushing her skull in several places
and leaving 23 identifiable wounds in her skull.
Morales took Winchell from the car and told Ortega to leave and return later.
Ortega left. Morales dragged Winchell face-down across the road and into a
vineyard. Morales completed an act of sexual intercourse with her unconscious
body. He started to leave, but went back and stabbed her four times in the chest
to assure her death. Winchell died from both the head and chest wounds. Her
body was left in the vineyard naked from the waist down with her sweater and
bra pulled up over her breasts.
Within two days, Morales was arrested at his residence. The police found
Morales’ broken belt with Winchell’s blood on it hidden under a bedroom
mattress. The police found three knives and the hammer hidden in the
refrigerator vegetable crisper. The hammer had traces of Winchell’s blood on it.
The police also found blood-stained floor mats from Ortega’s car in the trash.
Winchell’s purse and credit card were also in the house. Ortega’s blood-
spattered car was impounded. Morales had used $11 from Winchell’s purse to
buy beer, wine, and cigarettes on the night of the murder.
You have got to be kidding.