Vic­tims’ fam­i­lies speak out against gover­nor’s ac­tion

The Sacramento Bee - - Front Page - BY SAM STAN­TON sstan­[email protected]

Dis­gust­ing. Ap­palling. A punch to the gut.

Law en­force­ment lead­ers and fam­ily mem­bers wait­ing to see their loved ones’ killers put to death re­acted with these sen­ti­ments and oth­ers Wed­nes­day to Gov. Gavin New­som’s an­nounce­ment that he was ef­fec­tively scrap­ping Cal­i­for­nia’s death penalty and grant­ing re­prieves to more than 700 death row in­mates.

“It’s just an open wound that never heals,” said Richard Mo­bilio, whose 31-year-old son David, a Red Bluff po­lice of­fi­cer, was gunned down in an am­bush in 2002 and who has been wait­ing for the killer to face ex­e­cu­tion since the 2005 con­vic­tion in the case.

“I’m very dis­ap­pointed,” said Mo­bilio, who learned from news re­ports that his son’s killer, An­drew Mickel, would be given a re­prieve along with the other con­demned in­mates.

“We’re not for­givers and for­get­ters in this re­gard,” Mo­bilio said. “I hate to be so ob­vi­ously a case of ‘vengeance is mine,’ but I have to be hon­est with you ... I want to see him pay the penalty.”

Mickel is now 40, and Mo­bilio said Wed­nes­day that he still holds out hope that the in­mate may some­day face ex­e­cu­tion un­der a dif­fer­ent gover­nor.

“If there is a prospect that he pays that penalty, I fully sup­port it,” he said. “What­ever it takes leg­isla­tively or through what­ever ve­hi­cles there might be.”

Marc Klaas, whose 12-yearold daugh­ter Polly was kid­napped from her Pe­taluma home and mur­dered in 1993 by Richard Allen Davis, had a sim­i­lar re­ac­tion.

“Ob­vi­ously, I’m ap­palled,” Klaas said as he was con­duct­ing a se­ries of me­dia in­ter­views

about the gover­nor’s de­ci­sion. “I’m ap­palled by him do­ing that, and I’ve got plenty of rea­sons.”

New­som, in a news con­fer­ence at the state Capi­tol, in­sisted he has the author­ity to halt the ex­e­cu­tion process in the state and said that the ap­ple-green death cham­ber at San Quentin State Prison was be­ing dis­man­tled as he made the an­nounce­ment.

But law en­force­ment lead­ers pushed back – hard – at the no­tion that he could sim­ply ig­nore the fact that the death penalty is on the books as a Cal­i­for­nia law and that vot­ers have reaf­firmed sup­port for it three times in re­cent years.

“It’s dis­grace­ful to the vic­tims that have waited decades for the im­po­si­tion of sen­tences that juries have made, de­ci­sions in a state were we have for more than 40 years time and time again said this is an ap­pro­pri­ate pun­ish­ment in the rarest of cir­cum­stances,” said Sacra­mento District At­tor­ney Anne Marie Schu­bert, whose of­fice helped send a con­victed cop killer to death row last April.

“Now, with the stroke of a pen, one per­son overrides the will of the vot­ers and the de­ci­sions that juries have made? I am con­fi­dent that there will be a lot of statewide ef­fort to determine whether what Gov. New­som’s do­ing is even le­gal.”

Schu­bert, whose of­fice sent Luis Bra­ca­montes to death row last year for the 2014 slay­ings of Sacra­mento County Sher­iff’s Deputy Danny Oliver and Placer County Sher­iff’s De­tec­tive Michael Davis Jr., said her of­fice would not be bowed from seek­ing death penalty pros­e­cu­tions in the fu­ture where deemed ap­pro­pri­ate.

“The vot­ers of Cal­i­for­nia have passed a law say­ing they want the death penalty, that’s the law,” she said. “He can­not pre­clude a prose­cu­tor or DA’s of­fice from seek­ing it.

“There’s noth­ing stop­ping us from seek­ing cap­i­tal pun­ish­ment in a case where we feel it’s ap­pro­pri­ate.”

Schu­bert was ex­pected to dis­cuss New­som’s de­ci­sion Wed­nes­day with Sandy Friend, the mother of 8-year-old Michael Lyons, a Yuba City boy ab­ducted, raped and tor­tured for hours in 1996 be­fore be­ing stabbed more than 60 times by Robert Rhoades.

Friend said the gover­nor’s move “has si­lenced all of us, it’s just ab­so­lutely hor­rific.”

“We’re talk­ing about the worst of the worst,” Friend said of death row in­mates. “The worst of the worst he is go­ing to give for­give­ness to.

“My son was 8 years old against a 43-year-old man who bru­tal­ized him for hours and hours, and tor­tured him just for the


sheer plea­sure of do­ing it. I can’t imag­ine that lethal in­jec­tion is an in­hu­mane pun­ish­ment for him.”

Sacra­mento County Sher­iff Scott Jones said New­som’s ac­tion de­fies “the re­peated will of the vot­ers.”

“He has also re-vic­tim­ized the fam­i­lies of sex­u­ally tor­tured and mur­dered chil­dren, mur­dered peace of­fi­cers, and other vic­tims of hor­rific crimes, in fa­vor of the most de­praved among us who have been judged and sen­tenced to death by a jury of their peers,” Jones said in an email. “I would chal­lenge him to reach out to the fam­i­lies of Deputy Danny Oliver and De­tec­tive Mike Davis, as well as the fam­i­lies of all those vic­tim­ized by the

737 vi­o­lent crim­i­nals who have earned their right to face death be­cause of their evil acts, to try and jus­tify this ac­tion.”

Placer County Sher­iff Devon Bell, who was in court last year with Jones as a jury rec­om­mended death for Bra­ca­montes, said he was “pro­foundly dis­ap­pointed” by New­som’s move, and won­dered aloud how the de­ci­sion will im­pact his deputies, in­clud­ing De­tec­tive Davis’ brother, Ja­son, who is also with the depart­ment.

“I just find this so sad­den­ing,” Bell said. “I don’t know what I’m go­ing to say to Ja­son. I think (deputies) would share my pro­found dis­ap­point­ment. Our en­tire agency knows this too well.”

Bell said the fact that there was little chance of Bra­ca­montes fac­ing ex­e­cu­tion any time soon – no in­mate has been put to death in Cal­i­for­nia since

2006 – did not af­fect his sat­is­fac­tion in know­ing that it was at least pos­si­ble be­fore New­som’s an­nounce­ment.

“Real­is­ti­cally, was he go­ing to be ex­e­cuted in my ca­reer? No,” the sher­iff said. “But there was some closure in know­ing that he was on death row and that could even­tu­ally hap­pen.

“Now, that’s all been stayed.”

RENEE C. BYER [email protected]

Two moth­ers whose sons were mur­dered em­brace after meet­ing with Sacra­mento District At­tor­ney Anne Marie Schu­bert, right. Phyl­lis Loya, left, and San­dra Friend met Wed­nes­day with Schu­bert in re­sponse to Gov. Gavin New­som’s death penalty mora­to­rium.

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