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Royal Clark, Jr. - California Death Row
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Thread: Royal Clark, Jr. - California Death Row

  1. #1
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    Oct 2010

    Royal Clark, Jr. - California Death Row

    Summary of Offense:

    Sentenced to death in Fresno County on February 3, 1995 for the January 27, 1991 strangulation murder of 14-year-old Laurie Farkas and the attempted murder of her 15-year-old-girlfriend who was found badly beaten.

  2. #2
    Administrator Heidi's Avatar
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    Oct 2010

    On August 29, 2011, the California Supreme Court upheld Clark's conviction and death sentence on direct appeal.

  3. #3
    Administrator Heidi's Avatar
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    Oct 2010
    California Supreme Court Upholds Death Sentence for Murder of Fresno Teenager

    The California Supreme Court yesterday unanimously upheld the death sentence for a Fresno man convicted of the murder and attempted rape of a 14-year-old girl and the attempted murder of her best friend.

    In an opinion spanning nearly 200 pages, Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye cited a half-dozen instances in which Fresno Superior Court Judge John Fitch clearly or arguably erred. But defendant Royal Clark Jr. was not prejudiced in the guilt, sanity, or penalty phases of his lengthy trial, the chief justice said.

    “Given the strong evidence of defendant’s guilt of first degree murder and the aggravating circumstances attending that crime, we further conclude that none of the trial court’s missteps amounted to substantial error and there was no prejudicial cumulative effect warranting reversal,” Cantil-Sakauye wrote.

    Clark was sentenced in 1995 for the killing of Billie-Jo Laurie Farkas, whose body was found on a rural road in Madera County in January 1991. Her friend Angie Higgins, then 15, was found badly beaten in a rural area of Fresno County.

    Higgins testified that Clark, whose girlfriend Donna Kellogg was a cousin of the murdered girl, drove the two Fresno High School students to Lost Lake Recreation Area to look for a party, then became angry when Farkas refused to have sex with him. Others testified that Clark had shown a longstanding sexual interest in the victim.

    The prosecution presented evidence that Clark tied up Higgins in one restroom, then took Farkas to another and strangled her with a rope. Higgins said Clark told her Farkas had run away, then put her in his car and drove towards the area of southwest Fresno called “Chateau Fresno.”

    Higgins was choked with a rope, then left by the roadside at about 3 a.m. She was found by a passing motorist and hospitalized.

    Defendant Confesses

    Clark confessed to assaulting Higgins and killing Farkas, whom he said was like a sister to him. He pled not guilty by reason of insanity, and a defense expert testified he became insane at the point he assaulted Higgins and that he remained in that state during the next four to six hours until he returned home, but jurors found him sane.

    He was found guilty of eight felonies—the first degree murder and attempted rape of Farkas, the attempted murder, felonious assault, false imprisonment, and kidnapping of Higgins, and the robberies of both girls, based on the taking of small amounts of money they had in their pockets.

    The jury also found three special-circumstances—murder in the commission of robbery, murder in the commission of attempted rape, and murder with intent to prevent the victim from testifying in a criminal proceeding. The last special circumstance was based on evidence Clark killed Farkas, in part, because he feared she would tell police he had assaulted Higgins.

    In the penalty phase, the prosecution portrayed Clark as a violent man, presenting testimony from two witnesses from Texas that he once slit a man’s throat and stole his money on a train. Clark, who was convicted of robbery in that incident and imprisoned, later assaulted two fellow inmates, and committed two batteries and a robbery in California after his release, the evidence showed.

    The defense urged jurors to spare Clark, citing his mental problems and abusive childhood, and the fact that he was a father of five children, three of them with Kellogg. But jurors, who deliberated for about five hours, according to a Fresno Bee account, retuned a death penalty verdict.

    Jurors told the newspaper that the deliberate nature of the murder, the fact that the victim trusted Clark, and his lack of remorse led them to their verdict.

    The defense argued on appeal that the penalty verdict was flawed by an inconsistency in the special-circumstance verdict. The sequence of events, they argued, precluded a finding that Clark killed the victim in the course of attempted rape and robbery and also to prevent her from testifying about what he had done to Higgins earlier.

    Fair Determination

    It was also argued that Clark’s right to a fair determination of penalty was violated because the court ordered his lead lawyer, who was ill, replaced during a months-long recess prior to the penalty phase, and that jurors may have forgotten testimony or been exposed to prejudicial publicity during the interim.

    Cantil-Sakauye said there was nothing in the law that precludes different special-circumstance findings based on multiple intents.

    “That defendant’s plan to engage in sexual intercourse with Laurie preceded his decision to silence her as a witness to Angie’s assault by killing her meant only that he had more than one reason for killing her,” the chief justice explained. “There is no inconsistency in the application of both special circumstances here.”

    With respect to the replacement of counsel, Cantil-Sakauye said Fitch acted within his discretion when Deputy Public Defender Barbara O’Neill, the lead counsel in the guilt phase, underwent cancer treatment and reported that she did not know when, if at all, she would be able to resume representing Clark. Under the circumstances, the chief justice said, the judge was not obligated to wait for the results of O’Neill’s scheduled surgery before taking her off the case.

    The chief justice also approved of Fitch’s handling of the delay prior to the penalty phase.

    Publicity Issue

    The publicity issue, she said, was adequately handled by asking jurors if they had been exposed to the media coverage. Since none indicated that they had, nothing further was required, Cantil-Sakauye said.

    And “even if the lengthy delay caused jurors to forget evidence presented at the guilt or sanity phase, their memories could be restored by referring to their notes, requesting readbacks of testimony, and relying on counsel’s review of the guilt and sanity phase evidence during closing arguments,” she wrote.

    The chief justice was joined by Justices Marvin Baxter, Ming Chin, and Carol Corrigan, and by Court of Appeal Justice Sandy Kriegler, of this district’s Div. Five, sitting on assignment.

    Justices Joyce L. Kennard and Kathryn M. Werdegar, in separate opinions, disagreed with the majority as to the sufficiency of the evidence that Farkas was killed to prevent her from becoming a witness.

    The dissenters argued that the prosecution did not prove that Farkas “witnessed a crime prior to, and separate from, the killing,” an essential element of the special circumstance. But the error was harmless, they said, because the other two special circumstances were sufficient to impose the death penalty, and the evidence presented as to the circumstance of witness killing was admissible in any event because it was relevant to the circumstances of the crime.


  4. #4
    Administrator Heidi's Avatar
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    Oct 2010
    Death row inmate charged in 1989 strangulation of Wilson High School student

    A death row inmate has been charged with capital murder in the 1989 strangulation of a 15-year-old Wilson High School Sophomore, police and prosecutors announced Thursday.

    Royal Clark Jr., 49, was tied to the 1989 murder of Danielle Marie Haddon via DNA and will be returned from San Quentin state prison sometime in January for arraignment, said Deputy District Attorney Carol Rose.

    Rose filed the case for warrant Wednesday following a DNA hit that was confirmed by Long Beach Police Department Homicide investigators in September.

    Clark, who was 27 at the time of the Oct. 30, 1989, killing, allegedly used an electric cord to strangle the girl.

    That attack began on the night of Oct. 29, 1989, when Haddon was alone in the apartment she shared with her grandmother and was talking on the phone with a friend when she had to answer a knock at the door.

    Her body was discovered inside the apartment in the 1000 block of Coronado Avenue early the next morning after her grandmother returned home from work. She had been strangled to death and sexually assaulted, police said.

    DNA collected from the girl's body at the time was matched in the state DNA database, Rose said.

    Clark was already serving time and awaiting appeals of a death penalty sentence for his 1995 conviction in Fresno County of first-degree murder for the strangulation and attempted rape of a 14-year-old Fresno girl.

    Special circumstance allegations filed for Haddon's murder could result
    in prosecutors seeking the death penalty once again for the 1989 Long Beach murder, though that has not yet been determined, authorities said Thursday.


  5. #5
    Administrator Heidi's Avatar
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    Oct 2010
    Arraignment delayed for death row inmate charged in Long Beach girl's murder

    Arraignment was delayed for the second time Tuesday in the case of a death row inmate charged with capital murder in the 1989 strangulation of a 15-year-old Wilson High School sophomore.

    Royal Clark Jr., 49, was tied to the 22-year-old murder of Danielle Marie Haddon through DNA analysis.

    Without that analysis, funded by a federal grant in 2008, the already-convicted killer of a 14-year-old Fresno girl might have never been suspected in the Long Beach case, officials said earlier this year.

    Clark - who was 27 at the time of the Oct. 30, 1989, killing - allegedly used an electric cord to strangle the local teen, who was home alone while her grandmother was at work, Deputy District Attorney Carol Rose said.

    Clark appeared briefly at the Long Beach Superior Court Tuesday morning to enter a plea in the case, but his arraignment was postponed until March 5.

    He is being held without bail since his transfer from San Quentin Prison, where he has been awaiting execution on death row since his 1995 conviction for first-degree murder for the strangulation and attempted rape of a 14-year-old Fresno girl and the attempted murder of a 15-year-old girl.

    Prosecutors have not yet decided if they will seek the death penalty in the matter.


  6. #6
    Administrator Michael's Avatar
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    Oct 2010
    This is one "good point" about the slow way to a Cali execution. Itīs not likely that this case would have been solved if Clark had been executed years ago.

  7. #7
    Administrator Heidi's Avatar
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    Oct 2010
    Death Row Inmate Pleads Guilty, Avoids Additional Death Sentence

    A man already on death row for the murder and sexual assault of a 14-year-old Fresno girl pleaded guilty Wednesday to the 1989 murder of a 15-year-old Wilson High School sophomore.

    Royal Clark, 50, entered the guilty plea in exchange for a sentence of life in prison without the

    possibility of parole. Had he been convicted on all counts, Clark could have received the death penalty.

    Clark also admitted using an electrical cord when he strangled 15-year-old Danielle Marie Haddon on or about Oct. 30, 1989, in her grandmother's home.

    The teen was talking on the phone with a friend when she thought she heard someone at the door. Her body was discovered inside the apartment after her grandmother got home from work, according to the criminal complaint.

    The case, however, remained unsolved for years, until a federal grant allowed Long Beach Police Department Cold Case unit detectives to run evidence found at the scene for a possible DNA match.

    Long Beach Police Chief Jim McDonnell credited the grant with helping police find a suspect who would have otherwise never been found.

    Clark, who was 27 at the time of the murder, was awaiting execution on San Quentin's Death Row when police announced the break in the case earlier this year. He was sentenced to death following his 1991 conviction on first degree murder for the strangulation and attempted rape of 14-year-old Laurie Farcas of Fresno. He also has a prior conviction from 1985 for robbery on his record.

    Clark is scheduled to return to the Long Beach Superior Court on April 26, for formal sentencing. As part of the plea agreement he cannot file an appeal.

    An uninformed opponent is a dangerous opponent.

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

  8. #8
    Administrator Heidi's Avatar
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    Oct 2010
    Mom gets justice as Fresno County death row inmate sentenced in Long Beach slaying

    Kit Farkas traveled a long way Thursday to see justice done.

    She made the trip to Long Beach for the sentencing of a man who strangled a teenager there in 1989.

    It's been 17 years since that same man, Royal Clark Jr., was put on death row for strangling Farkas' 14-year-old daughter, Laurie, in a brutal attack at Lost Lake Park north of Fresno.

    "For years, I have always felt he controlled my life -- that he was holding me back," Farkas said Thursday after the sentencing. "But this new sentence is the last nail in his coffin. ... He's done. He's never getting out."

    Clark was given a death sentence in Fresno County Superior Court for killing Laurie and assaulting her 15-year-old friend, Angie Higgins, in 1991. But Farkas said she always feared that Clark would escape punishment because he claimed during his trial that he was mentally ill.

    So Thursday's sentencing -- life in prison without parole -- in a Los Angeles County courtroom was a relief for Farkas, who addressed Clark for the first time. In November 1994, she did not enter the Fresno courtroom until after Clark's death sentence was announced.

    Clark has been in San Quentin State Prison ever since, but two decades after Laurie's death, a DNA hit led to Clark being charged with the murder of 15-year-old Danielle Marie Haddon.

    Danielle was alone in the apartment she shared with her grandmother on the night of Oct. 29, 1989. She was talking on the telephone with a friend when she answered a knock at the door. Her body was found the next morning.

    The killing remained unsolved until fall 2010 when Long Beach police using a state database learned that DNA from Danielle's murder was linked to Clark. Detectives confirmed Clark had lived in Long Beach at the time of the murder and had moved to the Fresno area a short time later.

    Last week Clark, 50, pleaded guilty to first-degree murder for using an electrical cord to strangle Danielle. He also admitted he had a prior murder conviction: the strangulation of Laurie Farkas.

    In exchange for his plea, Los Angeles County prosecutors agreed not to seek the death penalty.

    Farkas said Judge Judith Meyer should be praised for badgering Clark to address the families of his victims.

    "He was given three chances to say he was sorry, but he wouldn't," said Farkas, who sat in the audience right behind Clark.

    "He wouldn't even look at us."

    Instead of showing remorse, Farkas said, Clark told the judge that he wanted to return to San Quentin, where he is on death row.

    Farkas, who moved from Fresno to Utah soon after Clark received the death penalty, said she told the court Thursday that Clark had caused a lot of pain and suffering for both her family and his family -- which includes three sons in Fresno.

    Fresno attorney Barbara Hope O'Neill, one of three lawyers who represented Clark in the Farkas killing, said Thursday that she wasn't surprised by Clark's guilty plea in Haddon's case.

    DNA evidence is powerful, O'Neill said. Clark also confessed on the witness stand to assaulting Higgins and killing Farkas, she said.

    "He had some deep mental issues that were never addressed," O'Neill said.

    Farkas, however, maintains that Clark is faking his mental illness, just as she did in 1994 when Fresno jurors chose the death penalty over an insanity defense. She said Clark was a family friend before he killed her daughter.

    "He knew what he was doing," she said.

    During Clark's Fresno trial, prosecutor Dennis Cooper said Clark drove the two Fresno High students to Lost Lake Park in January 1991 to look for a party. Clark then became angry when Laurie refused to have sex with him, Cooper told the jury.

    Clark tied up Angie Higgins in one restroom, then took Laurie Farkas to another restroom and strangled her with a rope, Cooper said. Clark choked Angie until he thought she was dead. She survived and later testified against Clark.

    Hoping to get life in prison, Clark confessed on the witness stand. His attorneys asked the jury to spare Clark's life, saying he had an abusive childhood and suffered mental problems.

    In deciding to give Clark the death penalty, Fresno jurors considered his criminal background: He cut the throat of a man he robbed in Texas in 1980; assaulted two men while in prison on that conviction; and in 1985 committed two batteries on a woman, plus a robbery.

    With Clark behind bars for life, Kit Farkas, 55, said Thursday that she can go on with her life. She said she hopes the next time she sees Clark is when he is executed, adding, "that's if I'm still alive."

    An uninformed opponent is a dangerous opponent.

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

  9. #9
    Administrator Moh's Avatar
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    Oct 2010
    On May 16, 2012, Clark filed a habeas petition in Federal District Court.


  10. #10
    Senior Member CnCP Legend JLR's Avatar
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    Mar 2011
    Clark filed another habeas petition before the California Supreme Court on October 18, 2013 and it has been fully briefed since July 28, 2014.


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