Judge Charles R. McGrath says death sentence was based on false testimony from a jailhouse informant.
Los Angeles Times: Judge Requests Clemency for a Killer He Condemned
In a highly unusual development, a judge who condemned a killer to die has asked Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to grant clemency.
Michael A. Morales is to be executed Feb. 21 for the 1981 killing of Terri Winchell, a Lodi high school student. Ventura County Superior Court Judge Charles R. McGrath, appointed by Gov. RonaldReagan, said in a letter to the governor that he believes the sentence was based on false testimony from a jailhouse informant.
Bruce Samuelson testified that Morales had callously boasted during a jailhouse conversation that he had planned to rape and kill the teenager. The confession supposedly took place in a crowded cellblock that Morales knew was full of informants.
Samuelson explained away Morales’ willingness to talk by saying the two men spoke in Spanish. A later investigation by the state attorney general, however, showed that Morales, a fourth-generation Californian, doesn’t speak Spanish, McGrath said.
Samuelson’s testimony not only persuaded judge and jury that the killing was egregious, but effectively canceled out Morales’ claim that he felt deep remorse for the crime, McGrath said.
Executing Morales, 46, under the circumstances would be “a grievous and freakish injustice,” McGrath concluded.
McGrath’s letter was included in Morales’ clemency petition, which was filed with the governor Friday. The petition asks that Morales’ death sentence be commuted to life in prison.
A 1981 Crime and now 20 PLUS years later another request for clemency for a convicted heinous murderer.
If Judge McGrath had a problem with sentencing for this case then so be it.
Flap certainly does NOT.
Looking at the facts of the case and the senseless heinous murder of a young girl, Flap could care less that Morales is remorseful for smashing her skull in with a hammer. He and his cousin were lying in wait for her = a special circumstance = death penalty.
Hell, Flap would have expected a Ventura County judge to give Morales the “Big Jab” regardless of the false testimony. And why 25 years later?
The San Joaquin district attorney’s office will file a response to this clemency request.
In the meantime, if Judge McGrath has any hesitation to impose the death penalty as prescribed by law and adopted by the People of California then Flap recommends he either retire from the bench or hear non-criminal cases.
Apparently Judge McGrath has retired from the Ventura County Superior Court. He is not listed as a current judicial appointee.
Flap does not know if as a retired judge he continues to hear some cases as a “rent a judge.”