Tuesday, February 22, 2011

People v. Murtishaw (Cal. Supreme Ct. - Feb. 22, 2011)


This one continue's today's theme of being of two minds.

On the one hand, you have defendant's offense.  A triple murder.  Senseless.  Horrible.  Despicable.  The victim impact evidence is particularly disturbing.  That's pages 2 through 8.

One the other hand, you have the mitigation evidence.  A genuine religious conversation.  A perfect disciplinary record -- incredibly unusual -- for 24 solid years.  A radical change from the mentally disordered drug abuser (who's family history was replete with institutionalizations and mental problems) who killed those three person.  A seemingly different person now that he's not using PCP.

But, as one might imagine, the offense and victim's impact evidence is more compelling to the jury.  To the first jury, who sentenced Murtishaw to death in 1978.  A sentenced reversed by the California Supreme Court in 1981.  To the second jury, who sentenced Murishaw to death again on remand.  A sentenced affirmed by the California Supreme Court but reversed by the Ninth Circuit on habeas in 2001.  And, finally, to the third jury, who yet again sentences Murtishaw to death.

Needless to say, the California Supreme Court unanimously affirms.  And so Murtishaw remains on death row for 33 years and counting.