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Thread: Gary Lee Grimes - California

  1. #1
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    Oct 2010

    Gary Lee Grimes - California

    Facts of the Crime:

    Grimes was sentenced to death in Shasta County on January 27, 1999 for the stabbing death of a 98-year-old woman, Elizabeth Bone, in her home on October 18, 1995. Elizabeth Bone was stabbed to death when she walked in on a burglary at her home on Deacon Trail in the town of Bella Vista six miles east of Redding. Her house was ransacked and several valuable items were stolen, including her pickup truck, which was found underwater the following morning at a boat ramp.

  2. #2
    Administrator Moh's Avatar
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    Oct 2010
    Grimes' case has been fully briefed on direct appeal before the California Supreme Court since April 26, 2011.


  3. #3
    Senior Member CnCP Legend JLR's Avatar
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    Mar 2011
    Oral arguments on direct appeal scheduled for the 28th of May 2014.


  4. #4
    Administrator Moh's Avatar
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    Oct 2010
    Death penalty case could be test for the new state Supreme Court

    The state Supreme Court upheld a Shasta County man’s death sentence Monday for the murder of a 98-year-old woman in a ruling so closely divided it could be a candidate for reconsideration after the court’s two new justices review it in the next few weeks.

    The victim, Betty Bone, was strangled and stabbed to death by burglars who barged into her home in 1995 and stole two guns, costume jewelry and a truck parked outside. According to prosecution witnesses, the killer was 20-year-old John Morris, who committed suicide in jail the day after his arrest. Gary Grimes, 33, accused by prosecutors of ordering the killing, was convicted of murder and sentenced to death.

    The court unanimously upheld Grimes’ murder conviction Monday but voted 4-3 to affirm his death sentence. The disputed issue in the death penalty case was the trial judge’s refusal to allow defense witnesses to testify that Morris told them Grimes had taken no part in the killing and had watched in apparent amazement as Morris killed Bone.

    The majority, led by Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye, said the evidence may have been admissible but would not have affected the verdict because the prosecutor never claimed Grimes had killed Bone, only that he had taken part in the robbery and had ordered the killing. Dissenting opinions by Justices Goodwin Liu and Kathryn Mickle Werdegar argued that the excluded statements contradicted prosecution evidence that Grimes had been the leader and had enjoyed watching the killing, and might have persuaded one or more jurors to spare his life.

    The ruling will not become final for 30 days, which will allow new Justices Mariano-Florentino Cuellar and Leondra Kruger to consider a request by Grimes’ lawyer for a rehearing. Both justices were sworn in Monday by Gov. Jerry Brown, who appointed them.

    Cuellar replaces the retiring Justice Marvin Baxter, joined Cantil-Sakauye’s majority opinion.

    Kruger succeeds Justice Joyce Kennard, who retired in April and has been replaced by a pool of state appellate justices. Her replacement in Grimes’ case, Justice Laurie Zelon of Los Angeles, joined the dissenters.

    If both Cuellar, a former Stanford law professor, and Kruger, an attorney in President Obama’s Justice Department, vote for reconsideration, the court will set Monday’s ruling aside and schedule a new hearing. Grimes’ lawyer, Cliff Gardner, said the case is a “good candidate” for rehearing because of the closeness of the vote.

    The vote could also test the newly composed court’s attitude toward capital punishment. Since Chief Justice Rose Bird and two fellow Brown appointees were voted out of office in 1986, California’s high court has upheld about 90 percent of the death sentences it has considered, among the highest affirmance rates in the nation.

    The rulings have not led to a surge in executions. After 13 condemned prisoners were executed between 1992 and 2006, a federal judge ruled that defects in lethal injection procedures and staff training at San Quentin had created an unacceptable risk of a botched and agonizing death. Prison officials’ responses have yet to satisfy state or federal judges.


  5. #5
    Administrator Moh's Avatar
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    Oct 2010
    On March 11, 2015, the California Supreme Court GRANTED Grimes' rehearing petition.


    On May 26, 2016, oral argument will be heard in Grimes' rehearing on direct appeal before the California Supreme Court.


  6. #6
    Senior Member CnCP Legend CharlesMartel's Avatar
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    Apr 2014
    Reversal of death sentence reflects leftward tilt of California Supreme Court

    Nearly two years ago, Gary Grimes lost his bid to overturn his death sentence.

    The vote on the California Supreme Court was close — 4-3 — and the decision was not technically final when the court changed membership. Two new justices, appointed by Gov. Jerry Brown, joined the dissenters to reconsider Grimes’ appeals.

    On Monday, the court overturned Grimes’ death sentence on a 4-3 vote, with Brown’s appointees in the majority.

    The turnaround underscored the malleability of the law. A judge’s perceptions, views and inclinations matter, and differences can determine whether someone lives or dies. Federal appeals court Judge Alex Kozinski wrote in a law journal that much of what judges do amounts to “guesswork.”

    In Grimes’ case, the issue turned on whether a legal error by the trial judge affected the jury’s decision to recommend a death sentence.

    Grimes, a Shasta County resident, participated in a 1995 home invasion that resulted in the killing of Betty Bone, 98.

    The trial judge refused to allow testimony that the man who slayed Bone told others that Grimes did not participate in killing the woman. The killer committed suicide before the arrests.

    The first majority, in a ruling written by Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye, said the omission of the testimony would not have made a difference to the jury.

    Justice Kathryn Mickle Werdegar, a moderate to liberal Republican appointee, and Justice Goodwin Liu, a Brown appointee, disagreed. The third dissent came from an appeals court judge filling in because of a vacancy on the court.

    They said the jurors might have spared Grimes’ life if they believed he had not committed the actual killing.

    Then Justices Leondra Kruger and Mariano-Florentino Cuéllar joined the court, and in an extremely rare action, they joined Werdegar and Liu in voting for reconsideration.

    In a ruling written by Kruger, the court on Monday unanimously upheld Grimes’ conviction.

    “No reasonable jury could have found that defendant was not a major participant in the crime or that he did not act with reckless indifference to life,” Kruger wrote.

    But the court split on the death penalty. The majority said it found a reasonable possibility that the jury would have spared Grimes’ life if it had heard the excluded evidence.

    For the first time in decades, the state high court has a majority of moderately liberal judges, and Monday’s result reflected that. The Brown appointees do not always agree with each other, but they appear to be gently pushing the court in a new direction.

    “A more liberal bloc is firmly in control, consisting of Justices Werdegar, Liu, Cuellar and Kruger,” Santa Clara Law Professor Gerald Uelmen wrote in a study of the court’s voting patterns.

    The four agreed with each other in 95% of the cases Uelmen examined in a one-year period.

    “The court has certainly moved a bit to the left, in both civil and criminal cases, but the efforts to maintain a high level of agreement reflect both restraint and collegiality,” Uelmen wrote.

    Monday’s decision also raised questions of how the law should function technically, but the ruling did not answer them.

    The attorney general had not initially argued that the trial judge’s decision to limit the witnesses’ testimony was “harmless.” The court ordered both sides to present written arguments on that point and held a second oral argument.

    That troubled Liu. Under the law, failure to raise an issue means you can’t argue it later. A defense lawyer who fails to object to something during a trial cannot bring it up later in an appeal.

    Should the court have given the prosecution the opportunity to argue the winning point when it hadn’t even raised it in the first place?

    Although the question was left unanswered, the three justices who were in the previous majority insisted they had been right all along.

    “Even assuming error by the trial court,” Cantil-Sakauye wrote in a dissent joined by two other Republican appointees, “no reasonable possibility exists that the error affected the outcome at the guilt phase or the penalty phase of defendant’s trial.”


  7. #7
    Administrator Moh's Avatar
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    Oct 2010
    DA's office won't retry death penalty case

    A 54-year-old Modesto man who saw his death penalty sentence overturned earlier this year by the state Supreme Court in the 1995 murder of a Bella Vista woman won't be retried, the Shasta County District Attorney's Office said today.

    Instead, it said, Gary Lee Grimes, whose murder conviction was upheld by the Supreme Court, will be allowed to stay in prison for the rest of his life without the possibility of parole.

    Even if he was retried and the jury recommended the death sentence, the DA's office said in a written statement, it's highly unlikely he would ever be executed.

    "A second prosecution would last almost three years and appeals could take well over 20 years," the DA's office added.

    It said Grimes will now be transferred from San Quentin's death row to a maximum security prison where he will remain in custody for the remainder of his life.

    It was in January when the California Supreme Court overturned his death penalty sentence in the murder of 98-year-old Betty Elizabeth Bone.

    In a 4-3 ruling, the justices determined statements made by one of the defendants in the killing should have been allowed during the penalty phase in the trial of Grimes.

    Those statements could have swayed a jury in the penalty phase because they indicate Grimes did not participate in the killing, the court said.

    Grimes, John William Morris, then 20, of Redding and Jones Valley resident Patrick James Wilson, 19 at the time, were all arrested and charged with stabbing and strangling Bone during a home invasion in October 1995.

    Bone, who pleaded for her life, was stabbed six times and strangled with a telephone cord when she walked in on a burglary at her Deacon Trail home.

    Her house was ransacked and several valuable items stolen, including jewelry and her pickup, which was found underwater the next morning at a boat ramp at Lake Shasta.

    Morris killed himself in the Shasta County Jail shortly after his arrest in connection to the case. But before dying, Morris told a witness that he killed Bone, not Grimes or Wilson.

    Morris also told another inmate in jail that he killed Bone, and the other two were in the house during the murder but did not participate, the ruling says.

    Those statements were not allowed at trial.

    Another witness, whose testimony was allowed, said Grimes played a leadership role in the killing.

    “The excluded statements would have given the defense a substantial basis for countering the prosecutor’s argument,” the ruling, written by Justice Leondra R. Kruger, says.

    While the court did not overturn Grimes’ murder conviction, the justices ordered resentencing in the case.

    Wilson took a plea bargain in 1999 and was sentenced to life in prison without parole.

    In its 116-page ruling, the Supreme Court recounted in graphic detail the killing based on evidence and trial testimony.

    Grimes said they walked to the home’s door and Wilson pushed open the door as Bone answered, knocking her to the floor.

    He said he later saw Morris on top of her with Bone pleading to be let go.

    Grimes told detectives that he told Morris not to hurt her and went into a bedroom because he “couldn’t deal with it,” according to the Supreme Court’s ruling.

    When he came back out of the bedroom he saw Morris strangling Bone, who was tied up with the phone cord.

    Grimes said that Morris told him, “I can’t leave no witnesses” before repeatedly stabbing her.

    During the 1999 sentencing, Superior Court Judge Bradley Boeckman said that Grimes was later heard to be laughing after Bone was murdered and also heard to say, ‘The old bitch deserved it.”

    On appeal, defense attorneys representing Grimes asked his conviction to be overturned on a number of grounds, including the trial court’s refusal to impanel separate juries for the guilt and penalty phases, as well as alleged jury instruction failures, jury misconduct and the exclusion of self-inculpatory statements.


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