Tuesday, February 24, 2009

People v. Bunyard (Cal. Supreme Ct. - Feb. 23, 2009)

This is not the longest death penalty opinion by the California Supreme Court (by far), and tops out at only 33 double-spaced pages. But I can shorthand it for you even more concisely:

"Dude, you paid your drifter druggie friend to blow away your nine-months-pregnant wife with a shotgun so you wouldn't have to give her any money in a divorce and could successfully marry your mistress. That's not a sympathetic story. Sure, back in 1988, you got your death sentence reversed by the California Supremes because the court told the jury at your penalty phase that the Governor could commute a life sentence. But the state on remand, not surprisingly, gave it another shot, and you were again sentenced to death. And 2009 ain't 1988. This time we're unanimously affirming."

P.S. - This is not to say that Bunyard hasn't gotten something out of this whole process. He's already bought himself 30 years since the 1979 murder, and has probably got at least another decade or so more to go of state and federal habeas proceedings before he's realistically looking at execution of his sentence. At which point, you'll note, we'll be whacking a guy in his 60s or 70s for something for which he was convicted 40+ years ago. Plus, assuming good behavior, the guy who actually committed the murder may well be out by then, since he got 25 to life as part of his plea deal. None of which is something we should be especially proud of.