California Death Penalty

No Justice for Terri Lynn Winchell

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Terri Lynn Winchell

Terri Lynn Winchell

NO Justice.

Gov. Gavin Newsom is putting a moratorium on the death penalty in California, sparing the lives of more than 700 death-row inmates.

Newsom plans to sign an executive order Wednesday morning granting reprieves to all 737 Californians awaiting executions – a quarter of the country’s death row inmates.

His action comes three years after California voters rejected an initiative to end the death penalty, instead passing a measure to speed up executions.

Newsom says the death penalty system has discriminated against mentally ill defendants and people of color. It has not made the state safer and has wasted billions of taxpayer dollars, according to prepared remarks Newsom plans to deliver Wednesday morning when he signs the order.

This is a direct affront to the voters of California. Michael Morales should have been executed decades ago.

Still NO JUSTICE for Terri Lynn.


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Death Penalty

Lawsuit Seeks Drug Protocol Change to Resume Executions in California

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Michael Angelo Morales

I am a few days late to this story, but at least someone (her brother) is trying to obtain justice for Terri Lynn Winchell.

The killer of a woman brutally murdered more than 30 years ago still sits on death row. The victim’s brother is suing to resume executions in California. The lawsuit seeks to end the legal logjam that has put a hold on executions at San Quentin State Prison for six years. The delays involve questions over the use of lethal injections.

More than 700 inmates sit on California’s death row. Not one has been executed in six years. Former governors Pete Wilson and George Deukmejian are on a team of lawyers seeking to help the families of murdered victims.

“I get sick to my stomach,” said Bradley Winchell, the victim’s brother. “I am asking this court to set it right.”

Bradley Winchell says he’s been waiting more than three decades for closure. His sister Terri was brutally murdered and raped in 1981 in a Lodi vineyard.

Her convicted killer, Michael Morales, sits on San Quentin’s death row and is one of 14 inmates who have exhausted all their appeals.

But just as Morales was about to be executed in 2006, a judge granted a reprieve, allowing Morales’s lawsuit to move forward after he claimed the three-drug lethal injection method was cruel and unusual punishment.

Winchell just filed a lawsuit of his own, saying he’s waited long enough. He wants the state to resume executions by moving to a one-drug process currently used in other states.

“I consider 31 years excessive delay, injury to not only myself but my family,” said Winchell.

California’s death penalty has been criticized for many years. Delays often result in decades passing before an execution is carried out.

“It’s a sad state of affairs when those officials with the duty to execute the law care so little about the rights of victims of crime,” said Kent Scheidegger, Criminal Justice Legal Foundation.

In the meantime, an initiative qualified yesterday and California voters yet again will be asked to vote on whether the death penalty will continue in the state. I, frankly, think that California voters will approve the death penalty – as they have each time.

Here is a video of a news report that tells the story:

This Californian demands justice for Terri Lynn:

Terri Lynn Winchell

The California Department of Corrections needs to speedily change its execution protocol and get on with it.

Michael Morales would then be one of the first to go:

Michael Angelo Morales current photo

Justice for Terri Lynn!

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Death Penalty

California Says NO Excutions in 2011

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The old San Quentin Prison Gas Chamber

What a shocker and from anti-death penalty Governor Jerry Brown and Attorney General Kamala Harris, too.
California corrections officials have put off until at least next year any attempt to resume executions among the 713 condemned inmates on death row, according to court documents.

The request by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to delay review of newly revised lethal-injection protocols until January at the earliest follows a decision last week by Gov. Jerry Brown to scrap plans to build a new death row facility at San Quentin State Prison.

The steps have stirred speculation among death-penalty opponents that California might be drawn into the national trend away from seeking new executions.

The most recent postponement was due to San Quentin warden Michael Martel’s decision to replace the execution team that had been assembled and trained last year. That team had been ready to carry out executions last September. Corrections officials have declined to say why Martel is assembling a new execution team.

The internal corrections department revisions were disclosed during a meeting of the department’s lawyers last week with U.S. District Judge Jeremy Fogel. The San Jose judge overseeing a federal case that has halted executions for the last five years expressed frustration with the protracted process and concern that the public doesn’t understand why it has taken so long to correct flaws in the execution procedures.

UC Santa Cruz professor Craig Haney, who opposes capital punishment and has tracked public attitudes on the death penalty for 30 years, said Brown’s decision to scuttle new death row construction to save taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars, and the corrections department’s slowing down of its efforts to resume executions are “examples of the increasing signs that the death penalty’s days are numbered in the United States.”

I think it is time for California voters to ask why there has been such a protracted delay in enforcing the law. If there are problems with the lethal injection method, even after spending close to a $ million on a new execution chamber, then why not resume use of the gas chamber. Photo below:

The newly renovated San Quentin Prison Death Chamber

AP Photo
If the California legislature needs to change the capital punishment law to facilitate a return to the gas chamber or hanging, so be it. My best guess is that Jerry brown would veto such legislation. The only recourse would be an initiative campaign by the voters of California – which of course, will take years or an election cycle.

So, don’t count on any executions to be held in California any time within the next few years – at least while Jerry Brown is governor.

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No justice yet for Terri Lynn Winchell.

An attorney for death row inmate Michael A. Morales, whose February 2006 execution was called off by Fogel over concerns that the former procedures could inflict unconstitutional pain, said the latest delays reflect a more cautious approach in the exercise of capital punishment by Brown’s administration.

“It appears that the state is attempting to be diligent in their obligations under the law, which would be in stark departure from what was the case with Governor [Arnold] Schwarzenegger,” said David Senior, one of Morales’ attorneys.

Terri Lynn Winchell

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