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  1. #1

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    Cisco James Hartsch - California Death Row

    Facts of the Crime:

    Sentenced to death on November 13, 1998 for the June 15, 1995 double murder of Ellen Creque and Kenneth Gorman in San Bernardino County. Hartsch also murdered Angelica Delgado, 14, on June 16, 1995.

  2. #2

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    July 1, 2010


    The California Supreme Court unanimously affirmed the death sentence for Cisco James Hartsch, convicted of three 1995 murders in Riverside County.

    Justice Carol Corrigan, writing for the high court, acknowledged that Riverside Superior Court Judge W. Charles Morgan failed to give the statutorily required statement of reasons for denying the defense motion to modify the death penalty verdict and sentence the defendant to life imprisonment without possibility of parole. But the defense failed to object in the trial court and forfeited the argument, she said, adding that “by any measure, the aggravating evidence, weighed against the mitigating evidence, amply supported the jury’s penalty determination".

    Facts of the Crime:

    Early on the morning of June 15, 1995, well before dawn, defendant and his friend Frank Castaneda left a party to go target shooting in an orange grove near the town of Highgrove in Riverside County. Defendant, who was drunk and may have smoked some methamphetamine, took his .22-caliber revolver. He was 18 years old; Castaneda, 20. At trial, Castaneda provided the following account of the ensuing events.

    As Castaneda was driving to the orange grove in a stolen Honda, defendant fired four or five shots at a house. He had some problems with the family that lived there. When they got to the grove, they saw a truck parked in the dark. Defendant told Castaneda to pull over, saying he was going to “jack it,” meaning he intended to take something from the apparently unoccupied vehicle. Castaneda stopped the car, facing the front end of the truck. As defendant approached the driver's side, Castaneda noticed someone in the passenger seat. He switched the car's headlights to the high beams to give defendant a better view. A woman sat up on the passenger seat, and defendant seemed surprised. The woman woke up a man in the driver's seat, who spoke angrily to defendant. Defendant fired his gun several times into the driver's side of the truck. The woman screamed repeatedly, “Oh, my God!”

    Castaneda panicked and backed up, preparing to leave. Defendant fired more shots into the truck, then approached the car and asked Castaneda where he was going. Castaneda said, “let's get out of here.” Defendant replied, “they're not dead yet,” and reloaded the revolver. Castaneda again said he wanted to leave, but defendant pointed the gun at him. Defendant then walked to the passenger side of the truck and fired more shots through the passenger window. Castaneda saw him reach into the truck before returning to the car. As they drove away, defendant told Castaneda, “the bitch didn't want to die and . . . she had nice tits.” He said he had pulled down her shirt and grabbed her breast. Defendant also said that when the woman said, “oh God,” he had told her, “God can't help you now. Mt. Vernon is here to rob, kill and destroy.” Castaneda drove defendant home. When they arrived, Castaneda said he was not going to take the blame if they got caught. Defendant told him not to worry, adding, “it's not like they were important, like, if they were bankers or lawyers or anything like that. Nobody cared about them.”

    The bodies were discovered later that morning by a water company employee, who called the police. A .22-caliber bullet and casings were recovered at the scene. Shoe prints with a chevron pattern were found around the truck. The prints were consistent with size nine-and-a-half Nike tennis shoes. The shoulder straps of the female victim's top and bra had been pulled down. She was identified as Ellen Creque. Her companion was Kenneth Gorman. Gorman had been shot seven times; Creque, 13 times. More .22-caliber bullets were recovered during the autopsies.

    At 6:30 on the same morning, defendant and his brother “Chucky” Rushing went to work at a beverage packing company. They were wearing tennis shoes, which were not allowed in the plant, and were sent home to change. Two supervisors testified that defendant's shoes were white. Castaneda, meanwhile, had driven to the home of his girlfriend, Veronica Delgado, and gone to sleep in the car. Veronica's brother Gabriel woke him by tapping on the window. Castaneda told Gabriel that defendant had shot two people in the orange grove with the gun Gabriel had given him. Later that day, Castaneda also told his brother-in-law about the shootings. Castaneda wanted to know if the victims had been found, he drove to the scene with his brother-in-law and Gabriel. They left when they saw the police. The next day, Friday June 16, Castaneda read a newspaper story about the murders. He clipped the article and showed it to Veronica, telling her that he had been there, and that defendant was the killer. When Veronica became upset, Castaneda told her he was lying.

    Angelica Delgado was Veronica's 14-year-old sister. Late in the afternoon of June 16, she left her grandmother's house with friends. She was wearing several rings and necklaces. She and her friends drove around for a while, stopping at defendant's house to see one of his sisters, Suzie. They drove around some more, but eventually returned to defendant's house. Angelica's friends left, and she stayed to visit with Suzie. Angelica's older brother Jesse testified that she called him around 9:00 or 9:30 p.m. and said she had a ride home. Suzie testified that Angelica left the house on foot. Later that night, Castaneda and his sister Alvina were driving through Highgrove when they saw defendant driving toward them. Castaneda stopped and defendant pulled up beside him. Angelica was with defendant. Castaneda testified that defendant told them he was going to the orange groves to have sex, presumably with Angelica. Angelica was smiling and appeared happy. Castaneda said he would be at his mother's house later, and defendant replied that he would come by. Alvina testified that defendant invited them to join him and Angelica. When Castaneda declined, defendant said that “they were going to the groves to party and have some fun.” Alvina also said that Angelica seemed to be happy.

    Defendant came to Castaneda's mother's house after midnight and showed Castaneda two necklaces. Castaneda asked where he got them, but defendant only smiled and returned them to his pocket. Castaneda recognized a medallion as Angelica's. He asked to see the jewelry again, but defendant refused. Around the same time, defendant gave his girlfriend, Larissa Gonzalez, a heart-shaped ring that was later identified as Angelica's. Gonzalez testified that defendant had other rings, and necklaces.

    The next morning, Saturday, June 17, Veronica asked Castaneda if they could “run away” to Texas. They had discussed such a move over the past few months; both had relatives there. Veronica had a four-month-old baby, by another man. She and Castaneda were using methamphetamine regularly, and she wanted to get away from the drugs. Castaneda agreed. They packed the stolen Honda, visited several family members to borrow money, and drove to Laredo. They left that Saturday afternoon and arrived the following Monday. Veronica did not tell her mother she was going, because she was only 17 years old and would have gotten into trouble. From Laredo, Castaneda telephoned defendant to borrow money. Defendant wired him $60.

    Early on Tuesday morning, June 20, Angelica's body was found in an orchard near Highgrove. The body lay on its back about 20 feet from a dirt road, beginning to decompose. Bloodstains on the sweatshirt and jeans indicated that the victim had been upright when killed. There were no drag marks or signs of a struggle. Shoe prints leading to and from the body had a chevron sole pattern. The victim's shoe prints were found along with more chevron prints on and around some large tractor tires near the dirt road.

    Opinion is here:

    http://www.courtinfo.ca.gov/opinions...ts/S074804.PDF

  3. #3
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    On October 18, 2010, the US Supreme Court denied Hartsch's certiorari petition.

    http://www.supremecourt.gov/Search.a...es/10-5997.htm

  4. #4
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    On October 21, 2010, Hartsch filed a habeas petition before the California Supreme Court.

    http://appellatecases.courtinfo.ca.g...doc_no=S187473

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