Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Death penalty issue to linger: Clarence Ray Allen Set Up for Execution!

Comment: I no longer consider myself a party to the US of the USA. This confused ountry, this sick semblance of society is NOT a true civilization. It is certainly NOT a humane society. It does need the Spiritual redemption of total transformation. ~ Peta de Aztlan

Death penalty issue to linger
The next inmate set to die - a 75-year-old blind diabetic - asks the governor for clemency.
By Andy Furillo -- Bee Capitol Bureau
Published 2:15 am PST Wednesday, December 14, 2005
Story appeared on Page A1 of The Bee

On the same day that Stanley "Tookie" Williams was executed, the next inmate in line to face the death penalty in California filed his clemency petition Tuesday with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger - keeping capital punishment as a front-burner issue in the state.

Clarence Ray Allen, 75, a blind diabetic who can't walk and needs open-heart surgery - and who was convicted of ordering the shotgun killings of three people in Fresno in 1980 while already serving a life term for murder - is scheduled for a Jan. 17 execution date at San Quentin.

Another death row inmate, Michael Morales of Ventura, will likely be scheduled for a Feb. 21 execution, and legal options are fast running out for four more condemned murderers who could face execution in 2006, according to the state attorney general's office.

"Those are the ones we would be looking closely at," said Dane Gillette, the office's capital case coordinator.

With Tuesday's execution of Williams, 51, the co-founder of the Crips street gang, Schwarzenegger has refused clemency in all three cases that have come before him in his 25 months on the job.

In turning down the petitions of the condemned, Schwarzenegger has demonstrated he is willing to let executions go on as ordered by the courts - in line with the wishes of a state that supports capital punishment by more than a 2-to-1 ratio according to a Field Poll taken last year.

"Basically, there has to be consistency on these things," said Republican political strategist Ken Khachigian. "You've got the death penalty for a reason, and that's to punish people who committed murders."

By approving the executions this year of Williams and Donald Beardslee and endorsing the death penalty - since stayed on appeal - for Kevin Cooper last year, Schwarzenegger is merely meeting the minimum requirements expected of a Republican governor, said another GOP consultant, Ray McNally.

"Clearly, crime victims are pleased with his decisions," said McNally, who represents some victims' groups and who helped organize opposition to Schwarzenegger's initiatives in the recent special election. "As long as the death penalty is enforced, as expected, it won't be a political issue for him. But if he starts commuting sentences and blocking the death penalty, it will be a huge issue for him, especially among Republicans."

Most Democrats also support the death penalty, according to Field, including gubernatorial candidates Steve Westly and Phil Angelides. But a smattering of legislative liberals led by Assemblyman Paul Koretz are pushing a bill that would place a two-year moratorium on imposing it.

"I think it's the right thing to do because we have been seeing across the country a large number of exonerations of death row inmates," said Koretz, a Democrat from West Hollywood.

Schwarzenegger spokeswoman Margita Thompson said the governor does not view clemency through a political prism.

"(He) considers each case on its merits," Thompson said, including the upcoming Allen case.

If he's executed, Allen would be the 13th state prisoner put to death in California since 1992. No governor has granted clemency in California since Ronald Reagan in 1967.

The owner of a Fresno security firm, Allen was imprisoned for life for ordering the 1974 strangulation murder of Mary Sue Kitts, 17, after she told on him for orchestrating a store burglary.

From his cell in Folsom Prison, Allen then plotted to have slain as many as eight of the witnesses who cooperated with authorities in the Kitts case. A former prison buddy, Billy Ray Hamilton, carried out the Sept. 4, 1980, shotgun slayings of Byron Schletewitz, 27, Douglas White, 18, and Josephine Rocha, 17, in the same Fresno store - owned by Schletewitz's father, according to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals' 2004 affirmation of Allen's conviction.

Allen's lawyer, Michael Satris, said Allen maintains his innocence and that the killings were planned and carried out by a drug-fueled Hamilton. Satris said Allen's claim of innocence "shouldn't" hurt his petition with Schwarzenegger even though the governor cited Williams' refusal to admit to his slayings as a reason for denying clemency.

"A sense of lingering doubt that you're going to execute an innocent person should be a basis (for) clemency," Satris said.

The thrust of the petition, however, focuses on Allen's age and ill health, including a heart attack three months ago. "We're going to emphasize Ray's age and feebleness," Satris said.

Deputy Attorney General Ward Campbell said Allen is "suffering the natural infirmities of old age." He characterized the evidence against Allen as "overwhelming" and said his sentence was affirmed by no less liberal an authority than the state Supreme Court under the late Rose Bird.

Campbell said that in his view, the three slayings ordered by Allen "are the most egregious capital murders in the last half-century in this country."

"Mr. Allen was serving a life term in prison," Campbell said, "when he had a triggerman go out and murder a witness, plus two innocent bystanders, none of whom will get a chance to live to a ripe old age."

Related document
Clarence Ray Allen's clemency petition [171k PDF]

I. The Age and Infirmities of Ray Allen.
Ray Allen, the oldest prisoner on California’s Death Row, is scheduled for execution the minute his 76th birthday on January 16, 2006, draws to a close.2 California has never executed a person so old.3 No State in this country has executed a person so old in more than half a century, and only five people in this country’s history were older than Ray Allen when they were executed; three of those were executed in the 1800s and the fourth in 1916.4 The uncivilized nature of execution of such an elderly person is illustrated by the fact that Iraq, one of the minority of countries in the world that still retain capital punishment, bars the execution of anyone over 70.5 The age of Ray Allen alone provides a sound basis to grant clemency.”
About the writer:
The Bee's Andy Furillo can be reached at (916) 321-1141 or
Relevant Website:
World Coalition Against the Death Penalty

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