Another life in Arnold’s hands

first_img Schwarzenegger, however, is fitting the pattern of modern-day governors, as the life-and-death power bestowed on the kings of England and transferred to governors of the United States has become a little-used option in the three decades since states resumed executions. “His thinking seems at odds if one of his concerns for clemency is to make sure you don’t execute an innocent man,” Satris said in an interview. “That you are gonna require an applicant to confess or admit their guilt means the truly innocent wouldn’t qualify for clemency.” In Williams’ case, Schwarzenegger said the condemned inmate did not atone for his sins because he neither said he was sorry nor admitted guilt. “If ever there were a case for clemency, this was it,” said state Senate Majority Leader Gloria Romero, D-Los Angeles. Schwarzenegger, however, didn’t agree. “Stanley Williams insists he is innocent, and that he will not and should not apologize or otherwise atone for the murders of the four victims in this case,” the governor wrote. “Without an apology and atonement for these senseless and brutal killings, there can be no redemption.” Such a philosophy places condemned inmates in a paradoxical situation, defense lawyers said. Courts normally entertain last-minute appeals based on claims of innocence. All of which means a condemned inmate who argues his innocence is likely doomed under Schwarzenegger, which increases the possibility of someone being wrongly executed, attorneys said. “Clemency is a safety valve for what the courts can’t fix, and to die because you don’t admit your guilt is not what clemency is about,” said Stephen Greenwald, a capital defense attorney and president of Metropolitan College of New York. “Clemency is looking at other facts outside the court record and making a judgment from the concept of mercy for some larger idea of justice.” Allen was sentenced to death for hiring a hit man who murdered three people at a Fresno market. Allen, who was already in prison for murder, had the trio killed because he feared their testimony would hurt his chances of prevailing on appeal, prosecutors said. The convicted hit man, Billy Ray Hamilton, also is on Death Row. Prosecutors said Hamilton was following Allen’s orders when he killed Bryon Schletewitz, Douglas Scott White and Josephine Rocha. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! SAN FRANCISCO – The state’s oldest convict on Death Row asked Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger for clemency Tuesday, a day after the governor rejected a similar bid and let Crips co-founder Stanley Tookie Williams die by lethal injection. Clarence Ray Allen, who ordered the hits of three people at a Fresno market while he was behind bars at Folsom State Prison in 1980, said he’s too frail to be put to death as scheduled Jan. 17. Allen, 75, says his physical infirmities, including a recent heart attack, have left him nearly deaf and blind and warrant a reprieve. He is also in a wheelchair. “He prays for that mercy because he is aged and infirm, suffering from chronic diseases that have been aggravated by the grossly inadequate medical treatment he has received at San Quentin and that have left him unable to walk, nearly blind, hard of hearing, and so physically incapacitated that his execution for the purpose of incapacitating him from the commission of further crime is manifestly unnecessary,” attorney Michael Satris wrote Schwarzenegger. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORERose Parade grand marshal Rita Moreno talks New Year’s Day outfit and ‘West Side Story’ remake While Satris also questions Allen’s guilt, the petition presents Schwarzenegger – who has rejected all three petitions for clemency that have come before him – with a far different claim: that physical infirmities are grounds for clemency. The three condemned inmates whose bids for clemency were rejected by Schwarzenegger either asserted their innocence or claimed they should be spared because they behaved well in prison or, in Williams’ case, argued both. Williams maintained his innocence in the shooting deaths of four people in a pair of 1979 Los Angeles County holdups and also claimed he was redeemed in prison because he preached peace, wrote children’s books and urged young people to turn away from gangs. Schwarzenegger suggested in Williams’ refusal letter Monday that admitting guilt and apologizing are necessary for clemency to even be considered. Williams was executed and declared dead at 12:35 a.m. Tuesday. That has left legal experts wondering whether clemency, which in California was last granted in 1967 by Gov. Ronald Reagan, is even attainable under the Schwarzenegger administration. In the first two clemency petitions, Schwarzenegger ruled it out entirely, saying the courts had spoken – positions taken by all California governors confronted with the issue since Reagan. last_img read more

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