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Blufford Hayes, Jr. - California
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Thread: Blufford Hayes, Jr. - California

  1. #1
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    Blufford Hayes, Jr. - California

    Summary of Offense:

    Sentenced to death in San Joaquin County on January 22, 1982 for the murder of Stockton motel manager Vinod “Pete” Patel on January 1, 1980.

  2. #2
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    Oct 2010

    Retrial likely for 30-year-old murder case

    STOCKTON - All attempts to resolve Blufford Hayes Jr.'s case have failed, putting him back on course for a retrial of the 1980 murder that once sent him to death row.

    In a Thursday hearing, David Wellenbrock, a seasoned attorney appointed to help Hayes broker the settlement and head off a new death penalty trial, told the judge that he could accomplish nothing.

    The prosecuting attorney, Thomas Testa, said he is again ready to seek a death sentence against Hayes, despite recently offering him a plea deal that gave the accused killer a slight chance of one day being freed on parole.

    And Hayes - who is acting as his own attorney yet wore to court the shackles and red jailhouse jumpsuit of a high-risk jail inmate - argued two pretrial motions on his own behalf.

    Hayes, 55, was convicted and sentenced to death for murdering Vinod "Pete" Patel, manager of Stockton's Rice Motel. An appeals court in 2005 tossed Hayes' conviction, saying a prosecutor in the original trial made a secret deal with a key witness to secure the conviction.

    On Thursday, Judge John Ball, who is overseeing the case, denied both of Hayes' motions, but not before Hayes used the court's subpoena power, summoning to the Stockton courtroom a wide cast of figures from his past.

    That included San Joaquin County Superior Court Judge Terrence Van Oss, Hayes' onetime prosecutor. Hayes had intended to put Van Oss, and others involved, on the witness stand to question them in support of his motions.

    Hayes sought to disqualify the San Joaquin County District Attorney's Office from prosecuting him again; he also sought to keep out of evidence two assault convictions on his record before being charged with murder.

    Awaiting the outcome, Van Oss wore civilian clothes and sat in the courtroom's public gallery. Learning that the judge was about to dismiss Hayes' motion - keeping Van Oss off the witness stand - Van Oss stood and left the courtroom.

    Hayes had also subpoenaed former San Joaquin County Deputy District Attorney Eual Blansett; Robert Wingo, the lead investigator for the Stockton Police Department in Hayes' first murder trial; and Elbert H. Holman Jr., a former sheriff's investigator.

    Also observing the hearing was Cedric Crawford, a victim of assault decades ago at Hayes' hands. His was one of two convictions Hayes attempted to keep out of his next trial.

    Crawford told officials outside of court that he continues to fear retribution from Hayes and asked if Hayes would soon be released.


  3. #3
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    Oct 2010
    Appeals court OKs hearing for defendant

    The state Court of Appeal has granted a man once sentenced to death a new hearing to prove the San Joaquin County District Attorney's Office should be disqualified from trying him on murder charges a second time.

    In 2005, a federal appeals court overturned the 25-year-old conviction of Blufford Hayes Jr. after determining that the original prosecutor had made an illegal deal with a jail inmate in exchange for his testimony against Hayes.

    Hayes, now 56, was sentenced to death for the fatal 1980 stabbing of the manager of Stockton's Rice Motel. The victim, Vinod "Pete" Patel, was bound by his hands and feet, stabbed and robbed.

    Hayes is now representing himself in a second trial, prosecuted by county Deputy District Attorney Thomas Testa.

    Hayes' petition alleges Testa is too involved with the original prosecutor, Superior Court Judge Terrence Van Oss, representing a conflict of interest. He alleges they share information on the case.

    Hayes filed court papers with the state after the county Superior Court denied his initial petition for a hearing.

    Testa said Hayes has no basis for his argument because, with the exception of sharing idle chitchat, he has kept his distance from Van Oss.

    "I haven't even had a cup of coffee with him," Testa said.

    But, Testa said, Hayes is entitled to his day in court. "I have nothing against that," he said.

    Multiple attempts to resolve the case before a new trial was necessary have failed. Hayes could have one day been freed on parole if he had been willing to make a deal. Instead, he remains on track toward a new death-penalty trial.

    Testa believes Hayes' attempt to have the District Attorney's Office removed from the case is a move to delay the case. He said Hayes is well-informed in criminal law.

    "In some ways, Mr. Hayes is winning death by a thousand cuts," Testa said, referring to the small legal maneuvers that are hindering the progress of the trial. "He's just succeeding in dragging it on and on."

    Testa said he worries about his ability to prove the case as time passes and witnesses die or become unavailable.

    A Third Appellate District judge is expected to hear Hayes' plea for a change in prosecution, but a date has not been set.

    If the county District Attorney's Office is barred, the California Attorney General's Office will take over the prosecution.

    Hayes, who spent more than two decades on San Quentin's death row, now sits in a San Joaquin County Jail cell, held on first-degree murder and burglary charges.

    An uninformed opponent is a dangerous opponent.

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

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    December 5, 2012

    Murder retrial hearing delayed

    STOCKTON - A hearing has been rescheduled for a murder defendant seeking to have the District Attorney's Office recused from his trial.

    Blufford Hayes is being retried by county prosecutors after a federal appeals court overtured his conviction of a 1980 murder.

    Hayes, 57, had been sentenced to death more than 25 years ago for killing a hotel manager in Stockton.

    The federal court sent it for retrial because the original prosecutor made an illegal deal with a jail inmate in exchange for his testimony against Hayes.

    Hayes, now acting as his own attorney, is asking San Joaquin County Superior Court to remove the District Attorney's Office from his case, citing a conflict of interest.

    On Tuesday, an evidentiary hearing on the matter was continued to Feb. 13. Hayes will be assisted by Stockton attorney Aliyah Abdullah.


  5. #5
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    Oct 2010
    Inmate acts as attorney, then doesn't attend trial

    By Jennie Rodriguez-Moore
    Record Staff Writer

    STOCKTON - Former death row inmate Blufford Hayes Jr. had an expensive heroin addiction that led him to kill and burglarize a Stockton motel manager more than 30 years ago, prosecutors said.

    "You will sell your grandmother to get money for drugs when you are that into it," Deputy District Attorney Thomas Testa said.

    Who could argue with that?

    No one, in this case. Because the two chairs designated for the defendant and the defense attorney sat empty during the weeklong murder retrial that ended with closing arguments Wednesday.

    Hayes, 58, had decided to act as his own attorney, which is unusual for someone accused of first-degree murder. Hayes also decided not to attend the trial, giving up the chance to make objections, cross-examine prosecution witnesses and bring in his own witnesses.

    Hayes waived his appearance and listened to live audio of the testimony from a holding cell at San Joaquin County Superior Court.

    Once awaiting execution on California's death row, Hayes won a second chance to fight murder charges when an appeals court judge tossed his 1982 conviction and sent him back to San Joaquin County for retrial.

    Outside experts are scratching their heads over Hayes' defense - or non-defense.

    "I've never heard of such a thing before," said law Professor Michael Vitiello of University of the Pacific's McGeorge School of Law. "I've never heard of a case in which a person has simply said, 'I'm going to waive the right to counsel and then just not show up.'

    "If his desire is to stay in prison forever, he could have done that here."

    "Unless you have someone cross-examining the witness, how on earth is the jury supposed to have any doubt?" Vitiello asked. "Here it seems almost impossible not to get a conviction."

    "There's a lot of legal and factual questions that go on in a criminal case that lawyers are trained to deal with," said law Professor Gabriel "Jack" Chin of the University of California, Davis. "Not every lawyer deals with those questions well, but at least they have a fighting chance.

    "And I've never heard of somebody representing themselves and then not showing up. That strikes me as quite problematic."

    In 2005, a 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals judge ruled that the prosecutor in the original trial made a secret deal with a jailed informant in exchange for testimony against Hayes.

    Because the prosecutor, Terrence Van Oss, was appointed to the bench in San Joaquin County in 1989, Hayes' new trial was overseen by visiting Judge Edward Lacy to avoid a conflict of interest with the local Superior Court.

    Old evidence was resurrected in the new trial, as Testa called on retired law enforcement officers - some well into their 70s - and had old transcripts read for jurors of testimony from witnesses who are no longer available.

    The only words in Hayes' defense came from those old transcripts. Hayes' 1982 testimony also was read. He said he killed Rice Motel manager Vinod "Pete" Patel in self-defense, alleging Patel attacked him and attempted to stab him.

    Hayes said he had injected heroin and Ritalin and consumed alcohol on that New Year's Eve. He said he awoke on a bed to Patel striking him on the face and the two began to scuffle.

    Hayes' version of what occurred, Testa said, "is preposterous. It's almost silly."

    During closing arguments Testa said blood spatter evidence in the bathroom showed the struggle occurred there and not at the bed.

    Hayes lured Patel to his sister's motel room by saying the sink didn't work, intending to slay him and burglarize the office, which dealt primarily in cash, Testa told jurors.

    Patel suffered multiple stab wounds to his chest.

    In the bedroom area, where Hayes said the brawl happened, items were undisturbed, including an ashtray sitting on the bed, Testa said, and Patel's body was found next to the bed in a puddle of blood with metal hangers tying his arms and ankles.

    In Patel's office, drawers and cabinets were left open, as though someone had searched through them. And Hayes was seen carrying out boxes of cigarettes from the office.

    Outside of the jury's presences, Hayes was escorted into the courtroom for a brief moment in which the judge offered the defendant an opportunity to make a closing argument.

    Hayes, sharply dressed in a professional gray suit, declined to address the jury and was taken back to the cell.

    The reason for Hayes' courtroom absence is unclear.

    If he is attempting to set up circumstances for an appeal, he likely will hit a dead end, Chin and Vitiello said.

    "He probably ought to think again," Vitiello said.

    When Hayes waived his appearance as his own attorney, Vitiello said, he also waived the right to make objections that should have been raised during the trial.

    Chin said winning such an appeal is unlikely because Hayes created the situation.

    "If you could, then nobody would ever be convicted," Chin said. "People would represent themselves and then sabotage their cases. (Whereas) a lawyer is unlikely to do that on purpose."

    Jurors began deliberating Hayes' fate Wednesday. If convicted, he faces a maximum of life in prison without the possibility of parole.


  6. #6
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    Hayes convicted of murder — again

    Defending himself, his absence in court raises suspicions for appeal

    By Jennie Rodriguez-Moore
    Record Staff Writer

    STOCKTON - A man who escaped the death penalty on appeal, then acted as his own attorney only to refuse to attend his own retrial, has been convicted of first-degree murder for the second time.

    Blufford Hayes Jr., who appeared before jurors Thursday for the first time since jury selection, also was found guilty of first-degree robbery and the special circumstances of use of a deadly weapon in the 1980 slaying of Vinod "Pete" Patel, a motel manager found with his arms and legs bound with wire clothes hangers and stabbed to death inside a motel room.

    Hayes, 58, nodded his head affirmatively as the verdict was read.

    "I think he knew," jury forewoman Amber Fortner said in the court hallway afterward. "But I think he has some kind of motive for not being in the courtroom.

    "I don't know what it is, but I think he is smart. He got the appeal after all this time."

    Hayes was originally convicted in 1982 and awaited execution on California's death row. But he was granted a retrial in 2005 by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on grounds the prosecutor in the original trial made a secret deal with a jailhouse snitch in exchange for testimony against Hayes.

    Then came a bizarre trial where the defendant's seat sat empty.

    Fortner's hunch on Hayes' antics resonates with Deputy District Attorney Thomas Testa, who can only speculate why the self-litigating prisoner represented himself in a serious murder case, then removed himself from testimony hearings.

    "I think he did it primarily for appellate purposes," Testa said. "I think he very cleverly looked ahead and just like a game of chess figured this was his best hope. Because had he participated, I think he would have been convicted. I know he would have.

    "He put all his marbles in this hope that an appellate court will throw this out because of his absence and his not having an attorney."

    Even though Hayes created the circumstances, Testa said, "On paper, it looks pretty bad. The judges were very careful in making sure he understood the consequences, but I worry that somewhere down the line an appellate judge will look at this and say, 'This guy was convicted when he wasn't even in the courtroom and didn't even have an attorney,' and they won't look any further."

    Outside legal experts viewed Hayes' handling of new trial as leading to a certain conviction.

    But to Testa, it was anything but a slam dunk for two reasons:

    "The age of the case made it very problematical. I worried jurors would have a hard time accepting the testimony of dead witnesses. And the witnesses who were here, understandably, could remember so little. We ended up reading the reports written back in 1980.

    "Then there was something more nebulous. That was the (potential) perception by the jurors that perhaps this wasn't a fair fight. I mean, if you go to a boxing match and you see a 300-pound boxer boxing a 100-pound person, you stop and say, 'I don't want to watch this, it's an unfair fight, it's disgusting, I'm walking out.' Thankfully, it did not have that influence on the jurors."

    Hayes' absence played no role in the jury's conclusion, according to Fortner.

    "We couldn't think of that at all," she said. "We had to just consider the evidence that was presented to us."

    And for most of the trial, Fortner said, jurors were convinced Hayes was the perpetrator - until they heard a reading of the defendant's testimony from 1982 in which he admitted to killing Patel but claimed it was in self-defense.

    Visiting Judge Edward Lacy, who presided over the trial, made sure to bring Hayes into court a few times each day, outside the presence of jurors, to offer him the opportunity to participate. Hayes declined every time.

    Lacy also had an audio feed of the hearings set up in the holding area where Hayes waited out the trial.

    The jury deliberated for two hours on Wednesday and a half-hour Thursday before rendering a unanimous verdict.

    The District Attorney's Office took the death penalty off the table for Hayes. This time, he faces life in prison without the possibility of parole.

    Hayes is scheduled to be sentenced March 3.

    "Justice was served," Fortner said. "Whether they have a reason for an appeal or not, I think this time, there were no mistakes. As far as we knew, he was innocent until he was proven guilty. And he was proven guilty."


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    Oct 2010
    Convicted killer wants 3rd trial

    STOCKTON - A former death row inmate whose retrial ended in a second murder conviction said he will seek yet another trial.

    Blufford Hayes Jr., 58, in a letter to The Record, said he will file a motion for a third trial, probation or dismissal at his next court hearing.

    Hayes said he is looking for someone to type up his motion pro bono. He alleges the court took away funding for the assistance he was receiving to file motions and deliver subpoenas. Hayes represented himself at his retrial and has turned down the court's offer to have a public defender.

    On Jan. 23, Hayes was found guilty by a jury of first-degree murder in the 1980 slaying of Vinod "Pete" Patel, a motel manager who was found stabbed to death with his arms and legs bound with wire coat hangers.

    Hayes also was found guilty of first-degree burglary, special circumstances of burglary and an enhancement for use of a deadly weapon.

    Hayes had previously been convicted and received the death penalty in 1982, but he was granted a retrial in 2005, when the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals found the original prosecutor had made a secret deal with an incarcerated informant in exchange for his testimony.

    The original prosecutor, Terrence Van Oss, recently retired as a judge from San Joaquin County Superior Court.

    During the time Hayes awaited a new trial in the San Joaquin County Jail, he also had gone to court for allegedly attempting to escape from jail and for alleged battery on a jailer.

    Hayes is scheduled to return to court March 3.


  8. #8
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    Oct 2010
    Hayes now seeking help in defense

    Twice-convicted killer wants attorney to help in third trial

    By Jennie Rodriguez-Moore
    Record Staff Writer

    STOCKTON - After representing himself and losing in court, Blufford Hayes Jr. wants a defense attorney to step in and help him seek a third murder trial.

    Hayes twice has been found guilty in the 1980 brutal slaying of a motel manager, including his retrial, when he served as his own attorney but refused to attend most of the court proceedings.

    Hayes was scheduled to be sentenced Monday, but instead, he asked the court to appoint one of his former defense attorneys, Palo Alto-based Richard Such, to seek another retrial.

    Over the course of the second trial, Hayes had been assigned eight defense attorneys, most of whom he has disagreed with or had removed from the case, according to a motion recently filed by Deputy District Attorney Thomas Testa. Among those Hayes removed was Such.

    As his own attorney, Hayes has complained to the court that Such continued interfering despite being removed.

    Hayes accused Such of becoming "obsessed" with his case and even requested the attorney be reported to the state bar.

    Hayes' case also has been shifted to numerous judges at his request. It is currently overseen by Visiting Judge Edward Lacy Jr., who is retired from Stanislaus County.

    Lacy is expected to make a decision on whether Such can take over Hayes' defense at a March 27 hearing. Such is likely to file a motion for another trial.

    Hayes originally was found guilty and sentenced to death in 1982 for the murder of Vinod "Pete" Patel, the manager of the motel where Hayes and his sister had been staying.

    Prosecutors believe Hayes was looking to fund his drug habit by burglarizing Patel. Hayes lured Patel to his sister's room, where the innkeeper was later found stabbed to death with his arms and legs bound with wire coat hangers.

    After spending more than two decades on death row, Hayes was granted a retrial on federal appeal in 2005. The appellate court found the original prosecutor, who has since retired as a judge, had made an illegal deal with an informant.

    Hayes, now sitting in the San Joaquin County Jail, lost his second trial on Jan. 23. A jury found him guilty of first-degree murder, first-degree burglary, a special circumstance of burglary and an enhancement for use of a deadly weapon.


  9. #9
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    Oct 2010
    Killer loses bid for new trial

    By Jennie Rodriguez-Moore
    Record Staff Writer

    STOCKTON - A judge has denied a motion for murder defendant Blufford Hayes to have a third jury trial.

    The ruling comes after Hayes represented himself in his second trial only to refuse to attend it.

    Hayes, who sat on death row for two decades before his first conviction was reversed on appeal, filed the motion for a third trial on grounds he was denied the right to have his choice of attorney and that certain testimony was omitted or perjurious among other reasons listed.

    His efforts were to no avail Tuesday, because visiting Judge Edward Lacy found that Hayes had plenty of opportunities to have representation appointed.

    "Mr. Hayes declined the offer," Lacy said.

    And by Hayes insisting on being absent from his own trial as he represented himself, he denied himself the chance to object to testimony, to cross-examine witnesses, point out contradictions in the case and to introduce his own evidence.

    Had the court appointed an attorney despite Hayes' objections to it, the court would have violated his constitutional right, Lacy said.

    The case has dragged on in the court system for more than 30 years between the appeals process and more recent delays of Hayes attempting to escape jail, Hayes having a number of attorneys and investigators replaced, and judges removing themselves from the case over concerns of conflict of interest.

    On Jan. 23, a jury in the retrial found Hayes guilty of first-degree murder in the 1980 slaying of Vinod "Pete" Patel, a motel manager who was found stabbed to death with his arms and legs bound with wire coat hangers. Hayes also was found guilty of first-degree burglary, special circumstance of burglary and an enhancement for use of a deadly weapon.

    Prosecutors removed the death penalty from the table this time and opted for a life sentence.

    Deputy District Attorney Thomas Testa relied on old evidence during the trial, including transcripts of testimony from witnesses who are now dead and on the recollections of retired law enforcement and experts.

    All the while, the defense seats remained empty. No one was there to contest the prosecution.

    Hayes originally received the death penalty in 1982, but that conviction was reversed in 2005 when a judge in the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals found the prosecutor, who has since retired as a judge, made an illegal plea deal with one of the witnesses in exchange for his testimony.

    Hayes has gone through about eight defense attorneys since then, including Richard Such, the appellate attorney who won the reversal for Hayes.

    Such was later removed from the case for ineffective assistance of counsel, and Hayes at one point filed a petition to have Such cease and desist, claiming the attorney had developed an "emotional attachment" and an "unhealthy obsession" to the case.

    In spite of their past disagreements, one of Hayes' arguments for a third trial was that the court did not allow Such back on his team for the trial.

    Such, however, was appointed to Hayes after the jury had rendered its verdict to help him seek the third trial.

    Following Lacy's ruling, Such said outside the courtroom, "I'm disappointed. I wanted to have a trial."

    Hayes had a right to an attorney with whom he had a long established relationship, Such maintained.

    Testa believes Hayes has been toying with the justice system by creating issues and making legal maneuvers that have delayed the process. Hayes' refusal to participate in his own trial was one of them, Testa said.

    Hayes is expected to return to court for sentencing July 15.


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    Oct 2010
    Killer sentenced but may be immediately eligible for parole

    By Jennie Rodriguez-Moore
    Record Staff Writer

    STOCKTON - A Stockton man once awaiting execution on death row has been resentenced to 26 years to life in state prison for the 1980 murder of a motel manager.

    Blufford Hayes had his decades-old conviction reversed on appeal in 2005, but he was found guilty again by a new jury in January in an unusual retrial in which he represented himself and refused to go to court the entire time evidence was presented.

    Hayes was found guilty of first-degree murder for stabbing to death motel manager Vinod "Pete" Patel, binding his arms and legs with wire coat hangers, and burglarizing his office. The jury also found him guilty of the special circumstance of burglary, one count of first-degree burglary and an enhancement for use of a deadly weapon.

    Hayes may be eligible for parole immediately because the credits he earned for time served and work time surpass the 26 years he is required to serve. But attorneys have serious doubts that Hayes will be a free man anytime soon, if at all.

    Visiting Judge Edward Lacey denied motions Hayes had filed for yet another trial but made some unexpected decisions at a Tuesday sentencing hearing in reducing the penalties for the man once condemned to death.

    Hayes had been facing a potential life term in prison without the possibility of parole when he went before Lacey.

    Defense attorney Richard Such - Hayes' former attorney who was allowed to represent him again in post-trial proceedings - argued that even if his client is guilty as charged, "he's done enough time for that crime" and described the circumstances he has experienced over the years as "cruel and unusual punishment."

    Such argued his client has mentally endured through numerous scheduled execution dates that never came to be, on-again and off-again appeals, and years of solitary confinement.

    "I humbly submit that is way too much time for this man," Such said.

    After Hayes was transferred from prison back to San Joaquin County Jail for his second trial, Such said he spent eight years in administrative confinement.

    That part of the jail is reserved for inmates who cannot be with the general population - many are noncompliant or violent or have severe mental illness. Such described inmates smearing their feces on cell walls.

    "You constantly hear the screaming of these maniacs," he said. "It's just unimaginable to me."

    Such spoke of people in history who have undergone a great deal of suffering and as a result were designated saints.

    Although he is not comparing Hayes to one, Such said, "In many ways he is like one of these saints."

    And in arguing for the judge to grant Hayes probation instead of prison, Such also vouched for his client, saying he doubts Hayes would commit such a crime again.

    "Well, I'd take him home," said Such, who has worked on Hayes' case for about 32 years off and on. "He can spend the night at my home."

    Jail records show Hayes has spent much of his time isolated in County Jail becasue of a new conviction that stemmed from his behavior in jail.

    Not long after Hayes was transferred to the County Jail, he was caught with a jailhouse shank in 2006. He also attempted to escape from jail and assaulted a correctional officer. Charges on those offenses landed him another six years of incarceration.

    Before he went to prison for Patel's murder, Hayes had already killed someone as a juvenile, said San Joaquin Deputy District Attorney Thomas Testa.

    Hayes had been convicted of more than a dozen misdemeanors and six felonies, including pleading guilty to manslaughter in the 1970s.

    Evidence also was presented during trial that a week after Patel's slaying, Hayes had tied up another man and burglarized him similarly to the way Patel was treated.

    "What he did to Mr. Patel wasn't done in a vacuum," Testa said.

    Lacey found the aggravating factors raised by Testa outweighed the mitigating arguments and decided against probation.

    Hayes' isolation in jail and experiences while on death row, however, did carry weight in Lacey's sentencing decision.

    "In the interest of justice," Lacey said, he struck down special circumstances attached to the first-degree murder charge, which would have qualified Hayes him for life in prison without the possibility of parole.

    Instead, Hayes received 25 years to life on the murder. Lacey also suspended the six-year prison sentence attached to the burglary charge and the enhancement it carried.

    He has one additional year left to serve for the escape and assault charges.

    Hayes was ordered to be transferred to a state prison, but he may be eligible for parole very soon because he has accumulated 51 years of credits for time served and time spent working within the prison system.

    When he was found guilty in 1982, prisoners convicted of murder were able to earn work time credits.

    Outside of the courtroom, Such expressed no optimism about his client's prospects for parole.

    "It's not a good chance because of the fact he was once sentenced to death," Such said.

    No parole board would take a chance with Hayes, Such said, no matter how well-behaved he may be.

    Testa said times have changed and the prison system has recently been releasing more prisoners with serious offenses because of prison overcrowding and other changes in the system.

    However, Testa said, Hayes would have to prove he is suitable for release, including taking steps such as earning an education and having a plan in place for success.

    "It's not a definite deal," Testa said. "He still has to convince the parole board of his suitability."


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