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Kenneth Earl Gay - California
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Thread: Kenneth Earl Gay - California

  1. #1
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    Oct 2010

    Kenneth Earl Gay - California

    Facts of the Crime:

    Sentenced to death on September 20, 1985 in the June 2, 1983 murder of Los Angeles police Officer Paul Verna in Lake View Terrace.

    Gay was re-sentenced to death in 2000.

    Co-defendant Raynard Paul Cummings is also on death row.

  2. #2
    Administrator Heidi's Avatar
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    Oct 2010
    March 22, 2008

    California Supreme Court Overturns Death Sentence for Kenneth Gay in 1983 Police Murder

    LOS ANGELES -- For the second time, the California Supreme Court on Thursday overturned the death sentence of one of two men convicted of the June 1983 murder of Los Angeles police Officer Paul Verna in Lake View Terrace.

    The state's highest court unanimously found that San Fernando Superior Court Judge L. Jeffrey Wiatt erred by barring Kenneth Earl Gay from offering "significant mitigating evidence" during the penalty phase of his retrial in 2000.

    The Supreme Court sent the case back for a third trial to determine if Gay should be sentenced to death or life in prison without the possibility of parole.

    "We'll review the ruling and be discussing the matter to determine how to proceed," said Sandi Gibbons of the District Attorney's Office.

    Gay's appellate attorney could not be reached for immediate comment.

    Writing on behalf of the Supreme Court in a 45-page ruling, Associate Justice Marvin R. Baxter said "there is a reasonable possibility" that jurors would have recommended a life prison term without parole -- instead of death -- had they been allowed to hear mitigating evidence, including four statements in which co-defendant Raynard Cummings claimed to be the sole shooter.

    "Because Raynard Cummings's admissions that he was the only shooter and the corroborating testimony of the eyewitnesses proffered by defendant related to the circumstances of the crime, we find that the trial court abused its discretion in excluding this evidence as irrelevant at the penalty retrial," Baxter wrote.

    Gay's first death sentence in 1985 for Verna's June 2, 1983, slaying was overturned in 1998 by the California Supreme Court, which agreed that he had not received "constitutionally adequate representation" during his first trial and ordered a retrial in the penalty phase of his case.

    When he was sentenced a second time to death in December 2000, Gay maintained he"never murdered anyone."

    "What this decision really was was an insult" to the Verna family, Gay said then, while turning to look at the LAPD motorcycle officer's widow and two sons. "It has been 17 years and you folks still haven't heard the truth about what happened to your loved one ..."

    Gay lashed out at the judge for refusing to let the defense present evidence he said could have cleared him, calling it "a travesty that this court would rule that the evidence of my innocence is irrelevant."

    The convicted murderer maintained that he would admit it if he were responsible for Verna's killing. He said he owed the slain officer's family an apology for not having the courage to stand up to Cummings, who is also on death row for the officer's shooting death.

    Gay urged the officer's family to push the District Attorney's Office to go forward with a new trial for him, with the proviso that he agree to waive all but the mandatory appeal if he is convicted.

    "I believe in my innocence strongly enough to risk my life," Gay said in the December 2000 hearing. He told the court he had spent all but 20 years of his life in prison and could spend another 18 to 20 waiting for the appeals process to run its course.

    Prosecutors contend that Cummings fired first at Verna, then passed the gun to Gay.

    Verna had stopped the car in which the two were riding in the San Fernando Valley, and prosecutors alleged that they killed the officer to avoid arrest for a series of robberies in the weeks preceding the traffic stop.

    Wiatt -- who committed suicide in February 2005 in a Santa Clarita park in the midst of a phone conversation with law enforcement officials over allegations of child abuse -- said when he sentenced Gay that he didn't think there was any question that Gay fired the final five shots at Verna.

    (Source: The Associated Press)

  3. #3
    Administrator Moh's Avatar
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    Oct 2010
    On April 29, 2014, Gay filed an appeal before the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. [Despite the California Supreme Court's 2008 reversal of his death sentence, he remains listed as being on death row according to the California Department of Corrections]


  4. #4
    Administrator Moh's Avatar
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    Oct 2010
    Family of murdered LAPD officer in limbo as killer languishes on death row

    By Brenda Gazzar
    The Los Angeles Daily News

    For three decades, Sandy Verna Jackson has longed for the day her husband’s killers would be executed.

    Raynard Cummings and Kenneth Gay were convicted of first-degree murder for fatally shooting Los Angeles police motorcycle Officer Paul Verna six times during a traffic stop in Lake View Terrace in June 1983. The parolees, who authorities said were trying to avoid arrest for a series of violent robberies in the San Fernando Valley, were sentenced to death in 1985. Gay’s death verdict was overturned for a second time in 2008.

    Verna’s parents — now in their 90s — will probably never see resolution of his killers’ cases, Jackson notes.

    “How would you feel if your only son was murdered without provocation while doing his job to protect the citizens of Los Angeles and those scumbags were still alive 32 years later?” asked Jackson, who has remarried and lives in the Santa Clarita Valley. “It’s hard for others to imagine, but that has been our life since Paul’s was taken from all of us, and it doesn’t end.”

    Jackson represents thousands of family members of homicide victims waiting to see justice meted out for the state’s 751 condemned inmates, who are eight times more likely to die of causes other than execution. California’s failure to execute inmates hurts families, costs taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars, bogs down the court system and arguably harms the inmates as well.

    A main reason for the delay in conducting executions is that appeals in capital cases often take two decades before a decision is made. Executions have also been on hold in the state since 2006 over lethal injection issues and, despite a recent development, are not expected to resume in the near future. Last year a federal judge ruled the state’s death penalty system was unconstitutional, which if upheld could ultimately commute all death sentences to life in prison.

    The death penalty sets up an expectation that these prisoners will be executed at some point — and that will be justice — but in California and many other states “that’s just a false promise,” said Richard Dieter, senior program director of Death Penalty Information Center, a national nonprofit that provides analysis and information on issues concerning capital punishment.

    “We all believe that it’s going to be taken care of” when these cases go to court, Jackson said. “As we say, ‘justice will be served.’ We don’t realize that it isn’t.”

    In California, more than 900 people have been sentenced to death since the death penalty was reinstated in 1978, but only 13 have been executed. In contrast, 101 condemned inmates have died by other means: 67 of natural causes, 24 by suicide, seven from incidents such as drug overdoses or homicide, and three deaths that have yet to be classified, according to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

    Condemned inmates are kept mostly in isolation, have limited amounts of exercise and are not eligible for typical prison programs since it’s assumed they will be executed, Dieter said. Yet in California, they most often end up serving a life sentence.

    “We usually ask juries or judges to pick one or the other but not both,” he said. “It’s an extra punishment.”

    Forty percent of inmates currently on the nation’s largest death row have spent at least 20 years there, while the average time spent is more than 17 years, according to CDCR data. About 20 percent are at least 60 years old.

    While the death penalty has been on hold in California for nearly a decade, taxpayers continue to pay well over $100 million a year to maintain a system experts on both sides of the debate call broken, costly and in dire need of change.

    Rising toll

    The estimated cost of California’s death penalty totaled more than $4 billion between 1978 and 2011, including $1 billion for more secure incarceration and nearly $2 billion for pre-trial and trial costs, according to a 2011 study co-authored by Paula Mitchell, an adjunct professor at Loyola Law School of Los Angeles, and the late Senior 9th Circuit Judge Arthur L. Alarcon.

    They also found the state spends $184 million more on condemned prisoners each year due to added costs of capital trials, enhanced security on death row and legal representation. Californians are expected to spend an additional $5 billion to $7 billion over the cost of a life-without-parole system by 2050, the authors said in 2012.

    Using more conservative projections, the California Commission on the Fair Administration of Justice estimated the annual costs of the death penalty system in 2008 to be about $137 million versus $11.5 million for a system of lifetime incarceration.

    The failure of leaders to respond with meaningful reforms or abolition has resulted in “the perpetration of a multibillion-dollar fraud on California taxpayers,” the 2011 study stated.

    Meanwhile, the number of the state’s condemned inmates swells each year. Gov. Jerry Brown’s request for $3.2 million from state lawmakers to convert 97 general population cells at San Quentin State Prison into those for death row inmates was approved as part of the state budget signed by Brown on Wednesday.

    Thirty-six new inmates were received on death row in 2013 and 2014 while 12 prisoners died of natural causes or suicide, according to state data.

    Lethal injection hurdle

    A settlement agreement this month opens the door for executions to possibly resume in California.

    Since 2006, state and federal courts have prevented the state from using its three-drug lethal injection procedure. Largely at issue are which drugs are used in executions and how. The state has been developing regulations for a single-drug method but has yet to propose one, an effort corrections officials say has been complicated by drug availability.

    Victims’ families sued the state in November to force it to adopt a new single-drug procedure so executions could potentially resume, and the state has agreed to submit draft regulations for review and approval within 120 days of a Supreme Court decision on Oklahoma’s lethal injection process, which is expected within days.

    The settlement offers “a ray of hope” that a valid one-drug protocol will be established and used to carry out executions, said Kent Scheidegger of the pro-death penalty Criminal Justice Legal Foundation, which represented the families in the lawsuit. But Matt Cherry of Death Penalty Focus, which opposes capital punishment, called it an “exercise in futility” since past attempts to create a legally sound protocol have failed and other states have been unable to find needed drugs.

    A new lethal injection process must first be devised according to state law and, if challenged as expected, approved by the courts before executions can resume, Dieter said.

    At the same time, the constitutionality of California’s death penalty system is also being challenged. U.S. District Court Judge Cormac Carney ruled last year that the delays and arbitrariness in executions amounted to cruel and unusual punishment. The case has gone to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals and if upheld could mean that some or all of the state’s death row inmates would have their sentences reduced to life without parole. Oral argument is set for Aug. 31 in Pasadena.

    California voters narrowly rejected a 2012 ballot measure that would have done away with the state’s death penalty system and converted the sentences of more than 700 inmates to life without parole.

    “When people discuss how it works in practice, including how innocent people are sentenced to death, including the disparities in sentencing based on race and income and class, and also when people realize the death penalty costs so much more than life in prison, then I think you start to see the public move against the death penalty,” Cherry said.

    Others argue for keeping the death penalty but reforming the system.

    “People who committed the very worst murders, the people who kidnapped, raped and tortured children, are getting off with less than they deserve,” Scheidegger said. “They are dragging out their cases so long to effectively commute them to life in prison and that’s not justice.”

    Dysfunctional system

    Meanwhile, the cases of Cummings and Gay are still in a maze of litigation. Cummings, 58, last year appealed a federal court’s decision to deny his petition challenging his jury conviction and sentence.

    Gay, 57, had his death sentence reversed for a second time in 2008 due to instructional error. A judge will make recommendations to the California Supreme Court regarding the competency of Gay’s original defense attorney as early as August. If the court finds the attorney was legally ineffective and that affected the outcome of the case, a new trial would be ordered to determine his guilt or innocence “like we’re starting all over,” said L.A. County Deputy District Attorney John Colello.

    Otherwise, Gay’s conviction would stand and prosecutors would decide whether to seek the death penalty for him again. Both men have denied guilt.

    Dysfunction exists at every stage of the state’s capital punishment process, said Loyola’s Mitchell.

    Since there aren’t enough attorneys trained or who want to work on capital appeals, condemned inmates can wait up to five or six years before direct appeals are even started. Because only seven justices serve on the California Supreme Court and appeals are hundreds of pages, it now takes roughly 20 years from the time a notice of appeal is filed until the court decides to affirm or reverse a conviction, she said. State and federal habeas corpus petitions often take 15 years after that.

    “It takes a tremendous amount of time for the attorneys, court staff and justices working on these appeals to consider and meaningfully address every single argument raised,” Mitchell said. “Meanwhile, decades are going by and inmates keep coming onto death row.”

    ‘A travesty’ of justice

    Bryce Verna, who was 9 when his father was killed, has few memories of him. There’s the time he killed a rattlesnake in their Thousand Oaks cul-de-sac and when his father, an avid Angels baseball fan, played catch with him at the Little League fields.

    But that hasn’t stopped Verna from modeling his life after him. Besides becoming a motor officer for LAPD’s Valley Traffic Division like his father, he was a Boy Scout and served in the U.S. Air Force, just like his Eagle Scout dad.

    His brother, Ryan, who was 4 at the time of the murder, also followed in his father’s footsteps and today is an LAPD detective in the Valley.

    “These guys have gotten to live for 30-plus years whereas my dad hasn’t seen my brother and myself grow up, seen his grandkids and carry on his life,” Verna said.

    Meanwhile, Cummings and Gay are aging at San Quentin.

    “This is a travesty of the justice system,” said Verna, who has a tattoo of his father’s police badge on his right leg beneath his uniform. “The justice system that my dad swore to uphold failed him.”


  5. #5
    Administrator Moh's Avatar
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    Oct 2010
    On December 4, 2019, oral argument will be heard before the California Supreme Court on habeas corpus as related to Gay's underlying direct appeal.


  6. #6
    Senior Member CnCP Legend JLR's Avatar
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    Mar 2011
    Conviction overturned in killing of LAPD officer 37 years ago

    The California Supreme Court decided unanimously Thursday to overturn a mans conviction in the killing of an LAPD officer 37 years ago during a traffic stop.

    The state high court, citing extensive evidence that the defense lawyer for Kenneth Earl Gay was incompetent, reversed the conviction that sent Gay to death row in Officer Paul Vernas killing on the evening of June 2, 1983, in Lake View Terrace.

    Gays case has bounced between the lower courts and the California Supreme Court for years. The court overturned his death sentence years ago on the grounds he had an inadequate lawyer, and a new trial was held on whether he should be condemned to death. Another jury also recommended death, but the second death sentence also was overturned.

    Gay then argued that his lawyer, Daye Shinn, also botched the guilty phase of his trial. Shinn, who was later disbarred and has since died, lied to get Gays case, evidence showed, counseled the defendant to admit to incriminating evidence and failed to introduce evidence that might have persuaded a jury to acquit him or spare his life.

    Both Gay and a co-defendant, Raynard Cummings, were passengers in the stolen car stopped by motorcycle officer Verna. Witnesses disagreed about which man shot Verna. Both were convicted and sentenced to death for shooting Verna.

    We cannot say Gays murder conviction was the product of a trustworthy adversarial process, Justice Leondra R. Kruger wrote for the court. Defense counsel obtained appointment to represent Gay through fraud, counseled him to make damaging confessions to the prosecution ... and failed to conduct a timely investigation into available testimony from eyewitnesses who would have exculpated Gay and peace officers who would have inculpated Gays co-defendant.

    Verna, who was 35 when he was fatally shot, won a medal of valor for trying to rescue children from a burning building. Two sons, Bryce and Ryan, later became police officers and joined the LAPD.

    Prosecutors argued that Cummings fired the first shot at Verna before passing the gun to Gay, who fired five bullets. During his retrial, witnesses testified that Gay had previously robbed and beaten them, and a former girlfriend told the court he firebombed her familys home.

    Los Angeles prosecutors will now decide whether to retry Gay, 60.

    While on death row, Gay wrote a screenplay, A Childrens Story, which won an American Film Institute contest in 1994. Actor Ed Asner, a judge for the contest, testified on behalf of Gay during his retrial.

    Shinn, the disbarred lawyer, also was the attorney for Manson family member Susan Atkins, who was convicted of participating in eight murders and died in prison in 2009. Shinn eventually lost his license to practice law for misappropriating client funds in an unrelated case.

    Deputy Atty. Gen. David F. Glassman, who represented the prosecution in the case, declined to comment


  7. #7
    Administrator Heidi's Avatar
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    Oct 2010
    Slain LA cops family hopes for retrial 37 years later

    On June 2, 1983, Los Angeles Police Officer Paul Verna was killed in the line of duty.

    That is not in dispute.

    What is, however, is who pulled the trigger. And a combination of factors from the current political climate to anti-police sentiments gripping the nation to the Los Angeles County district attorneys race next month could impact what happens next.

    For the Verna family, it means the man prosecutors say fired five bullets into the officer 37 years ago could go free.

    Whens it going to stop? Vernas oldest son Bryce said this week. Whens it over? When is justice going to be served?

    On June 2, 1983, during a traffic stop in the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles, authorities say Raynard Cummings fired one bullet into Vernas body and Kenneth Earl Gay fired five more. Both pointed to the other as the shooter and both were sentenced to death.

    The California Supreme Court has twice overturned Gays death penalty sentence and in February vacated his original conviction. The Los Angeles District Attorneys Office must decide by Dec. 14 if prosecutors will re-file the case.

    If we dont prosecute people who hurt and kill police officers, weve got an issue in society, Vernas youngest son Ryan said.

    Gay, now 62, remains incarcerated in San Quentin State Prison. He maintains his innocence.

    There is a court hearing Friday on the defenses motion to dismiss the case. The LA public defenders office, which is currently representing Gay, did not return requests for comment.

    A spokesman for the district attorney said officials are still reviewing the evidence. The current district attorney, Jackie Lacey, is facing a tough reelection and her opponent is against the death penalty.

    On June 2, 1983, Verna was 35. He had been an Eagle Scout, an Air Force veteran and a member of the Los Angeles Fire Department for 364 days.

    A jokester with a love for baseball he rooted for the then-California Angels and coached Little League he met his wife Sandy on a blind date. He adored animals and loved feeding them at the zoo, pointedly ignoring all the signs prohibiting exactly that.

    His sons, Bryce and Ryan, barely remember any of it.

    On June 2, 1983, Gay and his co-defendant, Cummings, were passengers in a car that Verna, a motorcycle officer, stopped for speeding through a stop sign in Lake View Terrace, a suburban neighborhood in Los Angeles San Fernando Valley.

    Prosecutors said the two men, who had committed more than a dozen robberies in the weeks before the shooting, thought Verna would arrest them because they were armed ex-convicts riding in a stolen car.

    Verna wrote down Pamela Cummings name a crucial move that later helped detectives solve the murder and leaned into the car to ask Cummings and Gay for identification. Cummings fired the first shot and then, prosecutors say, passed the gun to Gay, who jumped out of the car to pump another five bullets into the officer.

    On June 2, 1983, Vernas family was home. Bryce was 9 years old, his brother a few months shy of 5. His wife, now Sandy Jackson, was cooking dinner when the first police cars arrived to rush her to the emergency room. She told her children the tragic news the next day.

    Ryan just wanted his blankie, he wanted his favorite animal and he just wanted his daddy, Jackson said. That was, to me, the most heartbreaking, heart-wrenching thing to live through. Having my kids want their daddy and not being able to give them that.

    Now, 46-year-old Bryce is a motorcycle officer with the LAPD and wears a badge with his fathers number. Ryan, 42, is a retired homicide detective who looks just like his dad.

    Both men are frustrated by the decades of delays and wonder if Cummings and Gay will ever be executed. Gov. Gavin Newsom signed an executive order last year placing a moratorium on the death penalty.

    The original trial was held in 1985 and separate juries convicted Cummings and Gay, who each accused the other of being the shooter, and recommended the death penalty. Three years later, the state Supreme Court overturned Gays death sentence on the grounds of incompetent counsel, but left the guilty verdict in place.

    The court again sentenced Gay to death in 2000 after a retrial just for the penalty phase of the case. The high court overturned that, too, and in February, the justices unanimously decided to vacate Gays initial guilty conviction. The justices wrote that Gays attorney, Daye Shinn who was later disbarred and has since died among other things, did not introduce crucial evidence that might have swayed the jury to come to a different verdict.

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