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Raymond Oscar Butler - California Death Row
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Thread: Raymond Oscar Butler - California Death Row

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    Raymond Oscar Butler - California Death Row




    Facts of the Crime:

    Sentenced to death in Los Angeles County on July 29, 1996 for shooting and killing two college students from Japan during a carjacking. The man, Raymond Oscar Butler, was convicted of murdering Takuma Ito and Go Matsuura, both 19, on March 25, 1994. Mr. Butler was accused of shooting them in the back of the head, robbing them and taking Mr. Ito's 1994 Honda Civic. The two students had stopped in a supermarket parking lot in San Pedro after having dinner with friends. The killings occurred during a wave of carjackings in the Los Angeles area. Mr. Ito was a Japanese citizen, and Mr. Matsuura was an American who grew up in Japan. Both were film students at Marymount College.

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    June 18, 2009

    The California Supreme Court has upheld the death sentence for a San Pedro man convicted of carjacking and killing two Marymount College exchange students 15 years ago.

    The court announced Thursday it had rejected defense claims challenging the sentence of Raymond Oscar Butler, who was convicted in 1996 of killing 19-year-old film students Takuma Ito and Go Matsuura on March 24, 1994.

    Ito and Matsuura were shot to death in the Ralphs supermarket parking lot on Western Avenue in San Pedro. Ito was a Japanese citizen and Matsuura was American but grew up in Japan.

    The killings created headlines in Japan, shocking Japanese citizens and embarrassing the United States. President Bill Clinton apologized to Japanese Prime Minister Morihiro Hosokawa for the deaths on his country's soil.

    A Long Beach Superior Court jury of seven men and five women convicted Butler of two counts each of first-degree murder, second-degree robbery and carjacking, along with special allegations of multiple murders and that the crimes were committed during the commission of a robbery.

    Judge James Pierce imposed the jury's later recommendation that Butler, now 34, should face the death penalty.

    Ito and Matsuura became victims when they stopped in the parking lot after dining at a Gardena restaurant with two friends. They were trying to decide where the friends would stay during spring break while their campus in Rancho Palos Verdes was closed.

    Butler approached them, demanded Ito's wallet, ordered him to lie on the ground and shot him in the back of the head.

    He then fired several times into the car, striking Matsuura in the head at close range.

    Butler drove away in Ito's 1994 Honda Civic, which was found the next day. Butler was arrested a few days later.

    Defense attorneys claimed Pierce erred when he directed jurors to continue deliberations on two occasions when they said they were deadlocked.

    One of the 12 jurors was holding out for a not-guilty verdict when the panel was sent back after the second deadlock. A unanimous verdict was reached the next morning.

    The Supreme Court also said Pierce committed no other substantial errors in handling the case.

    Butler received a second death sentence in 1998 for helping two men kill a fellow inmate in county jail while awaiting his trial in the Ito and Matsuura case.

    The sentence in the March 26, 1995, slaying of Tyrone Flemming, 23, of Los Angeles remains on appeal.

    http://www.dailybreeze.com/news/ci_12623164?source=rss

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    December 11, 2009

    S.C. Reverses Death Sentence for Jail Inmate’s Killing

    Says Defendant Should Have Been Allowed to Defend Himself

    A man convicted of killing a fellow Los Angeles County Jail inmate is entitled to a new trial because the judge wrongfully prevented him from representing himself, the California Supreme Court ruled yesterday.

    Raymond Oscar Butler was denied his Sixth Amendment right to counsel, under the self-representation standard set forth in Faretta v. California (1975) 422 U.S. 806, Justice Carol Corrigan wrote in a 5-2 decision.

    In June, the high court unanimously affirmed Butler’s conviction and death sentence in a separate case, People v. Butler (2009) 46 Cal.4th 847. The sentence in that case was for the murders of two college students from Japan during a 1994 carjacking in the parking lot of a San Pedro supermarket.

    In 1995, while awaiting trial for those murders—of which he was convicted the following year—Butler was charged with the first degree murder of Tyrone Flemming.

    Flemming was beaten and stabbed multiple times as he and other inmates were being moved to showers the morning of March 26. Witnesses said that Butler started the fight, then Paul Gornick began stabbing Flemming, and that Butler then took the same knife and stabbed Flemming several more times.

    Butler admitted being involved in the fight, which stemmed from an ongoing feud between Gornick and Flemming over an allegedly stolen address book and supposed threats by Flemming against Gornick’s family. Butler said Gornick was planning to attack Flemming and had used a fabricated handcuff key to keep his stabbing hand free.

    Butler said he only participated in the fight because he would have been seen as a coward otherwise, and that he had not stabbed anyone.

    Although he was represented by counsel at his first trial, he filed a handwritten motion asserting his “unconditional constitutional right to represent himself without counsel.” The prosecutor said that Butler might be seeking pro per status in order to gain additional jail privileges, but acknowledged that he had a right to defend himself.

    The judge hearing the case at the time granted the motion.

    In January 1996, however, citing the Flemming stabbing and other disciplinary violations, including three incidents of possessing razor blades, the county moved to terminate Butler’s use of the law library, saying he was too dangerous to be allowed contact with other inmates and staff. The judge agreed, saying Butler could continue to defend himself through access to legal forms and supplies, a legal runner, and advisory counsel.

    In October 1996, subsequent to his conviction in the first case, Butler appeared before Los Angeles Superior Court Judge J.D. Smith, who was newly assigned to the Flemming murder case. The judge expressed doubt that Butler could continue to defend himself, saying it was “pretty obvious with this type of situation that pro per status is probably going to be revoked,” but put the matter over for about six weeks.

    At the next hearing, after the prosecutor recounted all of the incidents involving Butler at the jail, including a recent one in which a knife was found in his rectum, revoked his pro per status and appointed his advisory/standby counsel to represent him in the balance of the proceeding.

    Butler subsequently sought, in written papers and at court hearings, to regain his right of self-representation, and in September 1997, the judge agreed. But a month later, at a hearing at which Butler complained he had not received all of his discovery material, Smith again revoked his pro per status.

    The defendant’s standby lawyer explained that while Butler had received all of the discovery relating to the stabbing, which was a major part of the penalty phase in the previous trial, jail personnel had insisted that the rest of the material was too voluminous to be given to Butler at one time.

    Smith responded that this illustrated why the defendant could not represent himself:

    “It is not unique to your client. This is the pro per problem. You have a pro per that is in for another case; and the jail is a jail, it is not a law library. They restrict what you can do there. That is why it just doesn’t make sense to do that. In any event, I will just put you back on the case. You have had some time to work on at least the guilt phase. You can take a look at that and if we need to . . . we will take a short delay to look at the penalty phase. We will not be starting that right away.”

    Jury selection began a week later. Butler was convicted of first degree murder and sentenced to death.

    Corrigan, however, said the court was compelled by Faretta and its progency to reverse.

    While pro per status may be denied or terminated due to “serious and obstructionist misconduct,” failure to make a timely and unequivocal request for self-representation, acquiescence in appointment of counsel, or severe mental illness, Corrigan noted, the trial judge based his order solely on the restrictive conditions of the defendant’s confinement.

    “Restrictions on pro. per. privileges in custody are not unusual,” the justice wrote. “They have never been deemed a justification for depriving inmates of the right to represent themselves.”

    Corrigan further noted that the restrictions did not preclude Butler from representing himself, given that he had advisory counsel and access to legal documents and discovery materials.

    “It is established that the effectiveness of a self-represented defendant’s preparation is ordinarily irrelevant,” Corrigan wrote.

    “Defendants untrained in the law may well provide themselves with inept representation,” the justice added. “But Faretta gives them the right to make a thoroughly disadvantageous decision to act as their own counsel, so long as they are fully advised and cognizant of the risks and consequences of their choice.”

    Chief Justice Ronald M. George and Justices Joyce L. Kennard, Kathryn M. Werdegar and Carlos Moreno concurred.

    Justice Ming Chin, joined by Justice Marvin Baxter, dissented. Chin argued that the trial judge acted properly “under the extreme circumstances the case presents.”

    He emphasized that the restrictive conditions of Butler’s confinement were the result of the defendant’s own actions, as proven during the penalty phase of the first trial.

    He cited Indiana v. Edwards (2008) 128 S.Ct. 2379, in which the court held that a defendant who was severely mentally ill, but competent to stand trial, could be denied the right to represent himself.

    Chin acknowledged that the case was not directly on point, but seized on the high court’s statement that “self-representation at trial will not ‘affirm the dignity’ of a defendant who lacks the mental capacity to conduct his defense without the assistance of counsel.”

    The dissenting jurist argued that the court “should be similarly unconcerned with affirming the dignity of a defendant who is already under a sentence of death, and who is personally responsible for the actions that made him such a security risk that he could not effectively defend himself.”

    Corrigan, who said in a footnote that counsel for both sides had agreed that Edwards was irrelevant to Butler’s situation, wrote that while the U.S. Supreme Court might be “well advised” to reconsider its precedent, “this court is not empowered to narrow the established scope of a federal constitutional right.”

    The case was argued by Deputy State Public Defender Jessica K. McGuire for the defendant and Deputy Attorney General Jason C. Tran for the state.

    The case is People v. Butler, 09 S.O.S. 7001.

    http://www.metnews.com/articles/2009/butl121109.htm

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    Killer of two Marymount College students found guilty in inmate death

    The condemned killer of two Marymount College students in 1994 was found guilty Monday of murdering a fellow inmate before he was sent to death row two years later.

    After a day of deliberations in Los Angeles Superior Court, jurors found Raymond Oscar Butler guilty of first-degree murder in the jailhouse slaying of Tyrone Flemming on March 26, 1995.

    Butler, 36, and two other inmates beat Flemming and stabbed him with a metal shank, according to prosecutors.

    It was the second trial for Butler in the killing, and this time he was allowed to represent himself in court.

    Butler has been on Death Row since he was convicted in 1996 for the execution-style carjack killings of two Marymount College students, one of whom was a Japanese citizen and the other a U.S. citizen born in Japan.

    Takuma Ito and Go Matsuura were each shot once in the back of the head after Butler approached them in a Ralphs supermarket parking lot in San Pedro, where Ito's vehicle was parked. The stolen car was found later at another location in San Pedro.

    The March 25, 1994, murders of the two 19-year-old students stunned Japan and prompted expressions of regret from then-President Bill Clinton and Walter Mondale, then the U.S. ambassador to Japan.

    In 2009, the California Supreme Court reversed Butler's separate capital murder conviction for killing Flemming while he was awaiting trial in the double-murder case. The state's high court said the trial judge erred by refusing to allow Butler to act as his own attorney.

    After the jury found him guilty Monday, the panel came back a short time later with a second finding - that the prosecution's allegations that Butler had been convicted of murdering Ito and Matsuura were true. That set the stage for the penalty phase of the trial, which is due to start today, with Butler again representing himself.

    The same jury will decide whether to recommend the death penalty or life in prison without the possibility of parole.

    http://www.dailybreeze.com/news/ci_19854340

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    Jury calls for death penalty for prison murder by man who killed Marymount students

    Jurors recommended a death sentence Monday for a man who killed a fellow inmate in 2005 while he was awaiting trial for the slayings of two Marymount College students in the parking lot of a San Pedro supermarket.

    Raymond Oscar Butler, 36, has already been sentenced to death for the March 25, 1994, shooting deaths of Takuma Ito, a Japanese citizen, and Go Matsuura, a U.S. citizen born in Japan - a crime that made headlines in both countries.

    The California Supreme Court upheld his conviction and death sentence for the slayings of Ito and Matsuura in the parking lot of a Ralphs store in San Pedro. But the state's highest court reversed his original conviction and death sentence for the March 26, 1995, jailhouse stabbing death of Tyrone Flemming, ruling that a judge had erroneously decided Butler could not act as his own attorney.

    Butler did represent himself in the retrial of the Flemming case, but was unable to avoid the same outcome. Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Ronald S. Coen is scheduled to sentence him on April 6.

    In the penalty phase of trial, prosecutors introduced into evidence Butler's convictions for murdering Ito and Matsuura - but omitted any reference to the prior death sentence.

    Deputy District Attorney David Barkhurst told jurors that the evidence they heard during the guilt portion of the trial was "the tip of the iceberg."

    Butler has had a series of run-ins with fellow jail inmates, has had a number of weapons - including jail-made shanks - recovered from his cell and unleashed containers with feces and urine at prison guards who were bringing him library books or cleaning up trash, Barkhurst said.

    "The death penalty is necessary in this case to adequately punish the defendant for the crimes he has committed," the prosecutor said.

    The jury's other option was to recommend life in prison without possibility without parole.

    The murders of Ito and Matsuura stunned Japan and prompted expressions of regret from President Bill Clinton and Walter Mondale, then the U.S. ambassador to Japan.

    http://www.dailybreeze.com/news/ci_19905712

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    Death Row inmate faces additional death sentence

    Sentencing is scheduled today for a man who killed a fellow jail inmate in 2005 while he was awaiting trial for the shooting deaths of two Marymount College students in the parking lot of a San Pedro supermarket.

    Jurors recommended Feb. 6 that Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Ronald S. Coen sentence Raymond Oscar Butler, 36, to death for the March 26, 1995, jailhouse stabbing death of Tyrone Flemming.

    Butler is already on death row for the March 25, 1994, shooting deaths of Takuma Ito, a Japanese citizen, and Go Matsuura, a U.S. citizen who grew up primarily in Japan -- a crime that made headlines in both countries.

    The California Supreme Court upheld his conviction and death sentence for the slayings of Ito and Matsuura, who were shot in the head in the parking lot of a Ralphs store in San Pedro. But the state's highest court reversed his original conviction and death sentence for Flemming's murder, ruling that a judge had erroneously decided he could not act as his own attorney.

    Butler represented himself during his retrial.

    During the penalty phase of his retrial, prosecutors introduced into evidence Butler's convictions for murdering Ito and Matsuura.

    Deputy District Attorney David Barkhurst told jurors that the evidence they heard during the guilt portion of the trial was "the tip of the iceberg."

    Butler has had a series of run-ins with fellow jail inmates, has had a number of weapons -- including jail-made shanks -- recovered from his cell, and has unleashed containers with feces and urine at prison guards who were bringing him library books or cleaning up trash, Barkhurst said.

    "The death penalty is necessary in this case to adequately punish the defendant for the crimes he has committed," the prosecutor said.

    The jury's other option was to recommend life in prison without the possibility of parole.

    During the penalty phase, Butler called his mother -- Donna Ray Butler -- to the stand to testify on his behalf.

    "You love me, correct?" Butler asked his mother.

    "Yes, I do, very much," she responded.

    She said, "I stick behind my children. I love them unconditionally,' adding that he was "the apple of my eye" when he was born.

    "Thank you, mother, I love you," the defendant told his mother as he finished questioning her.

    The murders of Ito and Matsuura stunned Japan and prompted expressions of regret from President Bill Clinton and Walter Mondale, who was then the U.S. ambassador to Japan.

    Ito and Matsuura, both aspiring filmmakers, were shot once each in the back of the head. Ito's Honda Civic was then stolen.

    http://www.presstelegram.com/news/ci...death-sentence
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    Man on death row for killing Japanese students gets death again for jail killing

    A man already on death row for killing two Marymount College students in a San Pedro supermarket parking lot was sentenced to death again Friday for killing a fellow jail inmate while awaiting trial in the double slaying.

    Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Ronald Coen imposed the term on 36-year-old Raymond Oscar Butler after denying the defendant's motion for a new trial.

    "I've known you now for many months, Mr. Butler, and you're a very intelligent man," Coen said. "You're a killer, but you're a very intelligent man."

    Asked by the judge if there was any legal cause why sentencing should not be carried out, Butler replied, "Other than I'm innocent and I shouldn't be sentenced to death, no."

    Butler occasionally glanced at the audience during the hearing and smiled.

    "I intend on being an active participant in my appeal," Butler said after hearing his punishment.

    Jurors recommended Feb. 6 that Coen sentence Butler to death for the March 26, 1995, jailhouse stabbing death of Tyrone Flemming.

    Butler was already on death row for the March 25, 1994, shooting deaths of Takuma Ito, a
    Japanese citizen, and Go Matsuura, a U.S. citizen who grew up primarily in Japan - a crime that made headlines in both countries.

    The California Supreme Court upheld his conviction and death sentence for the slayings of Ito and Matsuura, who were shot in the head in the parking lot of a Ralphs store in San Pedro. But the state's highest court reversed his original conviction and death sentence for Flemming's murder, ruling that a judge had erroneously decided he could not act as his own attorney.

    Butler represented himself during his retrial. He also acted as his own attorney while making his plea for a new trial on various grounds, including his lack of privacy while interviewing witnesses in jail.

    "I did not have access to my witnesses without having the sheriff saddled to me," Butler said. "It had a chilling effect on me and my witnesses thereby being able to talk to me."

    Deputy District Attorney David Barkhurst said the jury's verdicts were proper and that the alternative sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole should not be imposed.

    "The people have always felt the appropriate punishment was death," Barkhurst said.

    During the penalty phase of his retrial, prosecutors introduced into evidence Butler's convictions for murdering Ito and Matsuura.

    Barkhurst told jurors that the evidence they heard during the guilt portion of the trial was "the tip of the iceberg."

    Butler has had a series of run-ins with fellow jail inmates, has had several weapons - including jail-made shanks - recovered from his cell, and has unleashed containers with feces and urine at prison guards who were bringing him library books or cleaning up trash, Barkhurst said.

    During the penalty phase, Butler called his mother - Donna Ray Butler - to the stand to testify on his behalf.

    "You love me, correct?" Butler asked his mother.

    "Yes, I do, very much," she responded.

    She said, "I stick behind my children. I love them unconditionally," adding that Butler was "the apple of my eye" when he was born.

    "Thank you, mother, I love you," the defendant told his mother as he finished questioning her.

    The murders of Ito and Matsuura stunned Japan and prompted expressions of regret from President Bill Clinton and Walter Mondale, who was then the U.S. ambassador to Japan.

    Ito and Matsuura, both aspiring filmmakers, were shot once each in the back of the head. Ito's Honda Civic was then stolen.

    http://www.dailybreeze.com/crimeandc...nts-gets-death
    An uninformed opponent is a dangerous opponent.

    "Y'all be makin shit up" ~ Markeith Loyd

  8. #8
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    On November 19, 2009, Butler filed a habeas petition before the California Supreme Court in the case involving the Japanese students..

    http://appellatecases.courtinfo.ca.g...hTQCAgCg%3D%3D

    On August 24, 2015, counsel was appointed for Butler's direct appeal before the California Supreme Court in the case involving the jail murder.

    http://appellatecases.courtinfo.ca.g...lTMCAgCg%3D%3D

  9. #9
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    The Japanese student case was remanded to the trial court on a juror misconduct claim on the 15th of August 2018.

    http://appellatecases.courtinfo.ca.g...hTQCAgCg%3D%3D

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