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Attorneys for convicted killer in Polly Klaas case seeks to overturn death sentence

Attorneys for one of California’s most infamous convicted killers wants his death sentence reconsidered.

Richard Allen Davis was convicted in 1996 of kidnapping and killing of 12-year-old Polly Klaas. She was hosting a slumber party at her mom’s Petaluma home with two friends when Davis kidnapped her in 1993.

Davis already had a lengthy criminal rap sheet. His conviction led to California’s three-strikes law. Three decades later, lawyers representing Davis argue he is entitled to a full resentencing.

Marc Klaas, Polly’s father, was at the Santa Clara County Superior Court Friday where the hearing took place.

“In 1996, when the trial concluded, I stepped in front of the cameras and said ‘Finally, this was over,’” he said. “Yet here I am 30 years later, this guy has gotten every consideration under the law since the day he was arrested.”

In the last couple of years, there have been criminal justice reforms having to do with the fact that California prisons are overcrowded. State politicians have been looking to expunge enhancements that were put on some more minor sentences like drug sentences.

But lawyers representing Davis are hoping to use these fairly recent reforms to their advantage. One of the laws at the center of this is SB 483, introduced by State Senator Ben Allen.

Allen released the following statement on Friday night:

“Davis is allowed to make whatever wild legal assertion he wants, but our law was definitely not designed to undo the death sentences of condemned child killers like him and any attempt to argue otherwise is off-base. The only part of sentencing that SB 483 allows the court to reconsider are the two one-year enhancements Davis received because of prior felony convictions. And the court makes that call based on the judge’s sense of what would be in the interest of public safety. There’s nothing in the statute that requires the court to reconsider his death sentence, which is subject to an entirely different sentencing procedure that our bill did not touch. Needless to say, this a desperate act by a despicable man and his lawyers and they’re off on a total legal limb. I completely agree with the prosecutors on this issue, expect them to prevail in court, and am happy to assist with their efforts.”

Legal Analyst Steven Clark gave his reaction to this situation.

“I think the court is going to look very carefully as to whether these guidelines actually apply to Mr. Davis and his death penalty verdict or whether they should only be used in other sentencing schemes,” he said.

Clark added that this could also set a precedent for future cases.

“Other courts in California are going to look at this case in deciding how they handle these death penalty decisions when they have to go back and do resentencing under the new law,” he said.

While Davis has been on death row, the death penalty has been put on pause under a moratorium signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom.

The judge did not issue a ruling on Friday. The next hearing is scheduled for May 31.

Source: NBC Bay Area

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