- ‘I Am Alive’ app gains popularity in terror-ravaged Lebanon
- Gun giveaways gain popularity among Republican candidates
- S.C. hospital worker slapped with $525 federal fine for refilling $0.89 soda
- Teen from ‘Jihad Jane’ plot becomes youngest ever to serve time on U.S. terror charges
- Iranian woman forgives son’s killer at the gallows
- Nebraska principal sorry for ‘don’t tattle’ flier
- Illinois readies to spend $100M for Obama museum in Chicago
- John Edwards back in court — this time as a lawyer for Va. boy’s malpractice case
- Covered California reports more than 200K in overtime Obamacare sign-ups
- Thanks, Chuck: Hagel says U.S. sending Ukraine sleeping mats, helmets
Death penalty tossed in killing of rocker’s mom
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - The California Supreme Court on Monday tossed out the death sentence of a man convicted of murdering rock guitarist Dave Navarro’s mother and her friend nearly 30 years ago _ a ruling that could affect the cases of Scott Peterson and other death row inmates.
The unanimous court said the trial judge presiding over the trial of John Riccardi improperly dismissed a prospective juror because of her conflicting written responses in a questionnaire asking her views of the death penalty.
The court said the judge was required to delve deeper into the juror’s death penalty views and determine if she could impose the death sentence is she believed prosecutors proved their case.
Peterson and a few other California death row inmates are appealing on similar grounds.
Peterson was convicted of killing his wife Laci, who was 8 months pregnant with their son, and dumping her body in San Francisco Bay on Christmas Eve 2002. Investigators believe Peterson either strangled or suffocated his wife.
Peterson has always maintained his innocence and claims in his appeal filed earlier this month that the trial judge presiding over his 2004 trial wrongly dismissed 13 jurors who said they opposed the death penalty but could follow the law and impose it if warranted.
In 1984, a narrowly divided U.S. Supreme Court ruled that reversal of the death penalty is automatic when potential jurors are dismissed because of their written answers to questions about their views on capital punishment.
The last California execution occurred in 2006. Lawsuits in federal and state courts have forced a temporary halt to executions.
In its ruling Monday, the state high court upheld Riccardi’s murder conviction. Once a noted body builder, he was convicted of killing former girlfriend Connie Navarro in a jealous rage. Her friend Sue Jory also was killed. Navarro’s son played guitar for the band “Jane’s Addiction.”
It’s now up the California attorney general to determine if another penalty phase will be held or if Riccardi is taken off death row and sentenced to life in prison.
Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye said that ruling “compels the reversal of the penalty phase without any inquiry as to whether the error actually” led to an unfair trial. The chief justice wrote separately to urge the U.S. Supreme Court to reconsider the automatic reversal in such cases.
The juror in question, identified only by the initials “N.K.” in the ruling, wrote on the questionnaire that she supported California’s reinstatement of the death penalty and stated that it is not used enough.
But later in the questionnaire, the juror gave answers that suggest she opposes capital punishment.
“I’m afraid I could not feel right in imposing the death penalty on someone even though I feel it is nessasary (sic) under some circumstances,” N.K. wrote.
TWT Video Picks
By Joy Overbeck
Redemption by government is futile
- Joe Biden's first Instagram pic mocked as shill for sunglass ad
- Jews being told to register in Ukraine: John Kerry
- Obama taunts GOP, takes nationally televised victory lap on Obamacare
- BOLTON: A 'three-state solution' for Middle East peace
- Army goes to war with National Guard, seizes Apache attack helicopters
- Elderly Chicago man robs bank to go 'home' to prison; judge fulfills his desire
- Cliven Bundy's Nevada ranch wrecked by retreating feds
- Chavez seizes Cargill factory
- Atheists rush to stage Easter display: 'Jesus Christ is a myth'
- IRS emails reveal discussion with Justice about suing nonprofits for election activities
Top 10 handguns in the U.S.