Vincent Edward Brothers – black, age 41

Sentenced to death in Bakersfield, California
By: A judge, following a jury recommendation.
Date of crime: July 8, 2003
Prosecution’s case/defense response: Brothers killed his estranged wife, Joanie Harper, their three small children, Marques (age 4), Lyndsey (age 2) and Marshall (age 6 weeks), and his mother-in-law, Earnestine (age 70). All five had been shot and stabbed. Brothers defense claimed he was in Columbus, Ohio visiting his brother at the time his family was killed. His attorneys described him as a compassionate, patriotic man who was wrongly blamed. The Prosecution believed that Brothers did fly to the Midwest to establish an alibi, but then drove back to Bakersfield in a rental car to kill his family.
Defense lawyer(s):
Sources: AP Alert 3/30/07 – CA 17:26:25, 9/28/07 – CA 00:42:11; University Wire 6/06/07 – UNIWIRE 00:07:52

Refugio Ruben Cardenas – latino, age 18

Sentenced to death in Visalia, California
By: A judge, following a jury’s recommendation.
Date of crime: October 9, 2003
Prosecution’s case/defense response: Cardenas shot and killed Gerardo Cortez (age 19) while he was visiting relatives. Cardenas thought he saw rival gang members and therefore used a sawed-off shotgun to fire at Cortez as he and several family members talked outside a residence. Cortez was shot in the head and died immediately. Another individual was shot but survived.
Defense lawyer(s):
Sources: The Fresno Bee 3/30/07 (2007 WLNR 6082769)

Joseph Cordova – latino, age 35

Sentenced to death in Martinez, California
By: A judge, following a jury’s recommendation.
Date of crime: August 24, 1979
Prosecution’s case/defense response: Cordova raped and strangled Cannie “Candy” Bullock (age 8). The prosecution alleged that Cordova was involved in an ongoing relationship with Cannie’s mother, Linda Baum. When Baum left her daughter home alone one evening to go drinking, Cordova gained entry to the home by preying on the young girl’s innocence and trust. The defense denied all allegations and claimed that the DNA evidence found on Cannie was transferred to her when she slept in the bed Cordova had previously shared with Cannie’s mother.
Prosecutor(s): Dara Cashman
Defense lawyer(s): Mitchell Hauptman & Michael Kotin
Sources: Alameda Times-Star 1/28/07 (2007 WLNR 26015694), 5/14/07 (2007 WLNR 9153012), Contra Costa Times 2/17/07 (2007 WLNR 3183970)

Alex Demolle – black, age 24

Sentenced to death in Oakland, California
By: A judge, following a jury’s recommendation.
Date of crime: July 23, 1999
Prosecution’s case/defense response: Demolle invited a neighbor child, Jaquita Mack (age 11) into his apartment to play video games and then proceeded to rape and murder her. The Prosecution alleged that Demolle also used a neighbor’s car to dump the young girl’s body several blocks away in an empty lot. After DNA evidence linked Demolle to the crime, he confessed during a taped interview.
Prosecutor(s): John Brouhard
Defense lawyer(s): Daniel Horowitz
Sources: AP Alert 5/4/07 – CA 12:14:40, Alameda Times-Star 5/03/07 (2007 WLNR 8455457), San Francisco Chronicle 4/17/07 (2007 WLNR 7241365)

Martin D. Drews – white, age 40

Sentenced to death in Imperial County, California
By: A jury
Date of crime: 2005
Prosecution’s case/defense response: Drews was an inmate at Calipatria State prison where he was serving a sentence for a murder he committed in 1983 while he was a parolee from the California Youth Authority. On the morning that a 30-day lockdown imposed at the prison due to racial tensions was lifted, Drews used a shank that was fashioned out of a piece of metal from a desk to stab to death the first black inmate he saw. Drews instructed his lawyers not to present a mitigation case.
Prosecutor(s): Roland Wayne Robinson
Defense lawyer(s): Thomas Storey, Edward Sada
Sources: Telephone call with prosecutor Robinson, 4/2/09; L.A. Times 1/4/84 1985 WLNR 1011755

Wayne Adam Ford – white, age 36

Sentenced to death in San Bernardino County, California
By: A judge.
Date of crime: 1997-1998
Prosecution’s case/defense response: Ford was convicted of killing four women, mutilating their bodies, and dumping them in reservoirs and sloughs. Ford confessed to killing Patricia Tamez, Lanett Deyon White, Tina Renee Gibbs, and an unidentified woman between 1997 and 1998 by strangling them during intercourse (all were believed to be prostitutes). Ford, a former truck driver, picked up each of the women between California and Nevada. Ford then strangled the women to death, mutilated their bodies, and dumped them throughout various locations in California, keeping various body parts as keepsakes. Ford consulted his brother, Calvin Rodney Ford, in November of 1998 prior to taking advice to turn himself in to the Humboldt County Sheriff’s department. During his confession, Ford removed a mutilated breast from his jacket pocket, presented it to the sheriff and proclaimed that this was the “tip of the iceberg.” The prosecution was able to convict Ford through a combination of his confession, a detailed description of the locations of the bodies, and recovered DNA and semen samples. Each of the murders was so brutal and grotesque that many jurors reported seeking counseling at the conclusion of the trial. The defense does not appear to have contested the charges, but stressed that Ford confessed as a product of his remorse, sought counseling at a Bible camp in Northern California, and had a troubled past.
Prosecutor(s): J. David Masurek
Defense lawyer(s): Joseph D. Canty, Jr.
Sources: L.A. Times 7/13/2006 (2006 WLNR 12041699), 7/21/2006 (2006 WLNR 12544018); AP Alert – California 7/28/2006, 8/11/2006, 3/17/2007

Alexander Hamilton – black, age 18

Sentenced to death in Contra Costa County, California
By: A judge.
Date of crime: April 13, 2005
Prosecution’s case/defense response: Alexander Hamilton and Andrew Moffett robbed a Raley’s supermarket and a Wells Fargo Bank that was housed within the supermarket. Both suspects fled the scene while being chased by Pittsburgh Police Officer Lasater. A short time after fleeing, Hamilton shot and killed Lasater, being apprehended shortly thereafter. Moffett was discovered hiding nearby. Both suspects were charged with armed robbery and murder. At the time of the incident, Hamilton was eighteen years old and Moffett was seventeen, thus ineligible for the death penalty. The defense provided mitigation evidence that Hamilton suffered brain damage as a result of his mother’s drinking problem during pregnancy. Information was also provided to the jury establishing that Hamilton’s stepfather was abusive and that Hamilton had been sexually abused by another boy during childhood.
Prosecutor(s): Harold Jewett
Defense lawyer(s): Robin Lipetzky and Kimberly Kupefer
Sources: Contra Costa Times 7/31/2007 (2007 WLNR 14836298), 9/12/2007 (2007 WLNR 17902295), 9/13/2007 (2007 WLNR 18439717)

Ivan J. Hill – black, age 31

Sentenced to death in Los Angeles County, California
By: A judge.
Date of crime: Winter of 1993 until early 1994
Prosecution’s case/defense response: Hill was convicted of a string of nine robberies in February of 1994. During his incarceration, police found DNA evidence which linked Hill to an unsolved string of nine murders occurring between 1993 and 1994. The prosecution linked Hill to the rape and murder of six women after finding DNA from semen and skin scraped from underneath the victim’s fingernails. Evidence of a total of three other unsolved murders was presented during Hill’s trial, demonstrating that Hill was the probable serial killer known as the “60 Freeway Slayer,” a name derived from the discovered location of the bodies. The defense presented testimony that Hill suffered from an abusive childhood, including abuse from his father. At the age of seven, Hill witnessed his father shoot his mother in the face on Christmas day, evidence submitted through the testimony of Hill’s surviving mother.
Prosecutor(s): John Monaghan
Defense lawyer(s): Jennifer Friedman
Sources: AP Alert – California 11/30/2006 ; U.S. State News 3/21/2007 (2007 WLNR 5422664); LA Times 3/22/2007 (2007 WLNR 5404872)

James Leslie Karis, Jr. – white, age 27 (re-sentence after appellate reversal)

Sentenced to death in Sacramento County, California
By: A judge.
Date of crime: July, 1981
Prosecution’s case/defense response: Karis was convicted of kidnapping two El Dorado County workers, raping one and killing another. Prosecution presented testimony of several of Karis’ victims, including other sexual assaults and kidnappings. The greatest interest in the case comes from Karis’ appeals process. During his original state sentencing, no evidence was presented regarding Karis’ horrific past. Afterward, attorney Norman Hile and his law firm took over the federal appeal and presented evidence of Karis’ traumatic childhood which stemmed from his father’s tyrannical control over the family. Karis’ sentence was reversed and set for retrial of the sentencing phase. After the prosecution closed, Karis took over his defense, refused to put on any evidence and pleaded for the jury and the judge to return him to San Quentin. Karis claimed that he did not want to undermine the emotions of his victim’s families or relive the horrors of his past.
Prosecutor(s): Joseph Alexander
Defense lawyer(s): Norman Hile
Sources: Sacramento Bee 4/26/2008 (2007 WLNR 7948117); AP Alert – California 4/26/2007

Jonathon Ross Luther – hispanic, age 22

Sentenced to death in California
By: A judge.
Date of crime: January, 2003
Prosecution’s case/defense response: Prosecution presented the videotaped confession of Luther admitting to hiding outside of a 74 year-old retired La Sierra University professor’s house and shooting him while he watched television. Luther admitted to not having any motive in picking his victim, only claiming that “it was the perfect time, the perfect moment.” The jury found the aggravating circumstance of lying in wait and the crime enhancement of discharging a firearm that caused bodily injury. The defense attempted to establish that Luther was not hiding long enough to warrant a finding of lying in wait.
Prosecutor(s): Angel Bermudez
Defense lawyer(s): Frank Peasley
Sources: AP Alert – California 2/3/2007; The Press Enterprise (LEXIS USPAPR file) 2/3/2007

Jose Luis Orozco – hispanic, age 22

Sentenced to death in LA County, California
By: A judge.
Date of crime: June 24, 2005
Prosecution’s case/defense response: Jose Luis Orozco was convicted of murdering a deputy sheriff assigned to investigate a gang related killing centering around Orozco. After a short foot pursuit, Orozco hid behind a door and sprung on the deputy, shooting him in front of a mother and her two children. Evidence at trial included the testimony of the three witnesses, DNA and fingerprint evidence linking Orozco to the murder weapon, and a videotape of Orozco bragging about the killing to a friend while incarcerated. Sentencing phase evidence also demonstrated that Orozco attempted to put a hit on the witnesses; a mother and her eight and ten year-old daughters. The jury found a plethora of aggravating circumstances, including lying in wait, murder to avoid arrest and the killing of a peace officer while performing official duties. Defense moved for a mistrial after the prosecution offered evidence of Orozco’s gang ties. Mitigating evidence included Orozco’s gang involvement since the age of 12 and his history of drug abuse. Orozco’s attorneys never attempted to defend the murder, admitting the overwhelming evidence, but rather claimed that Orozco’s past warranted a sentence of life without parole.
Prosecutor(s): Phillip Stirling and Lowell Anger
Defense lawyer(s): Stanley Perlo and Robin Yanes
Sources: AP Alert – California 4/3/2007, 5/4/2007; Long Beach Press 4/3/2007 (2007 WLNR 6609504), 5/4/2007 (2007 WLNR 9756649)

Santiago Pineda – hispanic, age 22

Sentenced to death in LA County, California
By: A judge.
Date of crime: April, 2004
Prosecution’s case/defense response: Santiago Pineda was convicted of the strangling death of an inmate that testified against him in an unrelated murder trial. The prosecution demonstrated that Pineda used a fake identification wristband to gain access to restricted areas of a Los Angeles jail. Pineda eventually found Raul Tinajero, ordered cellmates to look away while Pineda strangled the inmate to death, and finally threatened their lives if they were to report the incident.
Defense lawyer(s):
Sources: AP Alert – California 2/17/2007; LA Times 1/24/2007 (2007 WLNR 1367126), (2007 WLNR 1342368)

Irvin Alexander Ramirez – hispanic, age 23

Sentenced to death in Alameda County, California
By: A judge.
Date of crime: July 25, 2005
Prosecution’s case/defense response: Irvin Ramirez received a death sentence for the execution-style killing of a San Leandro Police Officer responding to a disturbing the peace call. Ramirez was detained for possession of drugs and weapons when Ramirez shot the officer in the chin with a 10 mm handgun, bringing him to the ground. Ramirez then fired six more rounds into the officer prior to fleeing the scene in a friend’s car. He then discarded his clothing and the murder weapon in a nearby marsh. Defense introduced evidence that Ramirez was drunk at the time of the incident and stressed the fact that he was only 23 at the time of the crime. Other evidence demonstrated that Ramirez has no history of violence and received several “good behavior” reports from jail.
Prosecutor(s): Tom Orloff
Defense lawyer(s): Deborah Levy
Sources: Alameda Times-Star 8/4/2007 (2007 WLNR 15012644); Contra Costa Times 8/4/2007 (2007 WLNR 15196398); The Argus 6/12/2007 (2007 WLNR 11007488)

Cuitlahuc Tahua Rivera – other, age 21

Sentenced to death in Colusa County, California
By: A judge.
Date of crime: April, 2004
Prosecution’s case/defense response: Rivera was a known member of the Merced Gangster Crips who had been arrested by Officer Gray previously. Gray stopped Rivera’s vehicle to check for a parole violation. The mother of Rivera’s child testified that Rivera knew a search would reveal a .45 caliber gun in his waistband and result in his arrest. Rivera fled his vehicle with Officer Gray close behind while Rivera’s two-year old daughter and her mother watched from the car. Rivera then turned and fired two shots, one entering above the officer’s bullet-proof vest, severing his spinal cord and resulting in his death. At trial, the prosecution offered the testimony of the mother and that of the woman who housed Rivera during a seventeen day manhunt. To seek the death penalty, the prosecution was required to establish that this was a premeditated murder designed to eliminate an efficient member of the gang strike force. Defense countered this argument by presenting testimony that killing police officers would be contrary to the gang’s interest, resulting in a police lockdown. Testimony also demonstrated that Rivera was on methamphetamine at the time of the murder.
Prosecutor(s): Larry Morse II and Mark Bacciarini
Defense lawyer(s): C. Logan Mckechnie
Sources: AP Alert – California 5/4/2007; Merced Sun-Star 5/23/2007 (2007 WLNR 9654910); The Modesto Bee 5/23/2007 (2007 WLNR 9684545)

Mauricio Silva – hispanic, age 24 (re-sentence after appellate reversal)

Sentenced to death in LA County, California
By: A judge.
Date of crime: 1984
Prosecution’s case/defense response: This case was remanded to a state court after the Florida Supreme Court found reversible error in the excusal of five prospective Hispanic jurors. Silva originally confessed to three murders approximately three weeks after committing acts described by a state court judge as “extraordinarily vicious and inhuman.” The defense attempted to show that Silva suffered from brain damage and survived a tumultuous childhood.
Defense lawyer(s): Upinder Kalra
Sources: AP Alert – California 5/25/2007, 8/18/2007