Death penalty up­held in ’94 case

High court re­jects ap­peal by O.C. man con­victed of killing par­ents and brother.

Los Angeles Times - - THE STATE - maura.dolan@la­ Twit­ter: @mau­radolan By Maura Dolan

SAN FRAN­CISCO — The Cal­i­for­nia Supreme Court unan­i­mously up­held the death sen­tence Mon­day of an Or­ange County man con­victed of mur­der­ing his par­ents and brother.

In a de­ci­sion writ­ten by Jus­tice Kathryn Mickle Werde­gar, the court re­jected an ap­peal by Ed­ward Charles III, con­victed of killing his fa­ther, Ed­ward Charles II, his mother, Dolores Charles, and his 19-year-old brother, Daniel Charles, a USC stu­dent, in 1994 at the fam­ily’s home in Fuller­ton.

The de­fen­dant, a 22-yearold col­lege dropout work­ing as a me­chanic at the time of the killings, main­tained at his trial that he had no mo­tive for the mur­ders and lacked the poor char­ac­ter re­quired to have com­mit­ted them.

In his ap­peal, Charles ar­gued that a let­ter pros­e­cu­tors said he had writ­ten to an­other in­mate about the crime should not have been ad­mit­ted at trial. The court dis­agreed, con­clud­ing that the de­fen­dant had es­sen­tially con­ceded he wrote the let­ter dur­ing a jail­house in­ter­view with a re­porter from the Or­ange County Reg­is­ter.

Charles also ar­gued that he was de­prived of cross-ex­am­in­ing the re­porter thor­oughly at the trial be­cause the re­porter in­voked his rights un­der a state news- pa­per shield law, which protects jour­nal­ists who refuse to dis­close un­pub­lished in­for­ma­tion or con­fi­den­tial sources.

The court dis­agreed, say- ing the ev­i­dence did not show the shield law thwarted an ef­fec­tive cross-ex­am­i­na­tion by the de­fense.

The pros­e­cu­tion showed that Charles went to his par- ents’ home while the fam­ily was hav­ing din­ner. He stabbed his brother and forced him into the trunk of a car and killed him by strik­ing his head re­peat­edly with a 16-inch cres­cent wrench, ac­cord­ing to ev­i­dence pre­sented at trial.

The pros­e­cu­tion said that Charles re­turned to his par­ents’ home, stran­gled his mother and beat his fa­ther to death with a blunt ob­ject.

He con­fessed his crime to his mar­tial arts in­struc­tor and tried to per­suade his 73year-old grand­fa­ther to take the blame for the mur­ders, ac­cord­ing to the court.

Although the mo­tive was never made clear, the pros­e­cu­tor sug­gested in his closing ar­gu­ment that Charles killed to in­herit his par­ents’ es­tate.

Kevin P. Casey Los An­ge­les Times

AT­TOR­NEY RICHARD Schwartzberg, left, with Ed­ward Charles III af­ter a mistrial in 1998.

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