Tuesday, July 01, 2008

People v. Salcido (Cal. Supreme Ct. - June 30, 2008)

Here, in incredible brevity, are the relevant crimes:

"The evidence established that in the early morning hours of April 14, 1989, defendant drove his three young daughters, Sofia, Carmina, and Theresa to an isolated gulch used as a dumping site, where he cut their throats and left them, resulting in the deaths of Sofia and Theresa. Defendant drove to the residence of his mother-in-law, Marion Louise Richards, where he stabbed to death Marion and her daughters Ruth Bernadette Richards and Marie Ann Richards. Defendant returned home, where he shot to death his wife Angela. He proceeded to his workplace at Grand Cru Vineyard, where he shot to death his supervisor, Tracey Toovey, and then drove to the residence of another supervisor, Kenneth Butti, whom defendant shot and injured. The crimes took place within a period of approximately three hours."

The details are even more chilling.

Needless to say, the California Supreme Court unanimously affirms the resulting death sentence.

Which is what you'd expect. Even if, in the process of doing so, the California Supreme Court feels compelled to hold -- as it indeed does here -- that sentencing someone to death is fine even if the U.S. gets around the extradition treaty with Mexico (which refuses to extradite any of its citizens who's facing the death penalty) by falsely telling Mexican officials that the defendant is a U.S. citizen.

Admittedly, the facts here are pretty unique, including both the depravity of the crime as well as the fact that the defendant himself (stupidly) went on live television in Mexico and said that he was a U.S. citizen. Those facts, mind you, don't justify the deliberate lies of the U.S. officials. But bad facts sometimes result in bad acts. As well as bad law. So what the California Supreme Court -- and perhaps Mexico and U.S. officials -- did here is entirely understandable. It's the nature of the beast. Right or wrong.