California Spares Inmate From Death Row
No man has the right to take another man's life. California is finally figuring that out!
According to Reuters, a federal appeals court has overturn the death sentence of Douglas Stankewitz, California's longest serving death row inmate. The 54-year-old Mono Indian man was originally convicted in 1978 for killing a woman during a drug- and alcohol-fueled carjacking.
Stankewitz has spent 34 years awaiting execution, but now will be re-sentenced to life without the possibility of parole unless prosecutors decide within 90 days to retry the penalty phase of his trial, which would consider punishment only, not guilt or innocence.
The decision late on Monday by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals comes just a mere week before Californians vote on a referendum to abolish the death penalty in the state. Can this be considered a step in the more peaceful direction? Back in 2006, a federal judge halted all California executions, saying a three-drug lethal injection protocol risked causing inmates too much pain and suffering before death.
In regards to Stankewitz case, an appeals court panel, in a 2-1 decision, ruled that the Mono Indian man received ineffective legal counsel during the penalty phase of his murder trial, when he was sentenced to die.