Election Day Poses Major Question For California Voters: Should 749 Death Row Inmates Be Executed?

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Election Day has finally arrived. All elections have consequences, but for 749 people in the state of California, there are life or death decisions on the ballot. California faces a decision on Proposition 62, which would repeal the state’s death penalty. There are fervent supporters of both sides of this campaign, but today we’re going to look at something else: the criminals who are currently on Death Row in California. For them, California voters will determine whether they live or die. The Los Angeles Times has prepared an interactive look at the men and women currently on the state’s Death Row, and a little insight into the crimes that juries decided were worthy of the Death Penalty. Here are just a few of the 749 inmates whose lives hang in the balance.

Michael R. Burgener
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As of election day, 58-year-old Burgener has been on Death Row for 35 years and two months. He was sentenced to death in 1981 for the murder of William Arias during the robbery of a convenience store on Halloween morning in 1980. He has been through appeals and retrials in his attempt to have his sentence commuted to life without parole. He has even had his death-penalty sentence overturned by the California State Supreme Court twice on appeal. In 2016, the third appeal to the State Supreme Court upheld the sentence. However, in the 35 years since his first trial, Burgener has outlived not one, but two of the judges who tried his case. Burgener’s first defense attorney has also died in that time frame. Reports suggest that Burgener may have as many as 15 years of appeals left before there’s nothing else to be done but execute him.[Los Angeles Times]

Rodney J. Alcala
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We brought you the story of Rodney Alcala, aka “The Dating Game Killer,” earlier this year. Alcala has been on death row for 36 years and four months as of election day. Will the serial killer whose actual victim count remains unknown almost 40 years after his trial be executed, or will he end up being granted life without parole? Either way, he’s not going anywhere, as he was recently determined to be too ill to be extradited to California to face the consequences for the alleged murder of Christine Thornton.[Rodney Alcala, “The Dating Game Killer”]

David Carpenter
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At age 86, Carpenter is one of the oldest prisoners on California’s Death Row. As of election day, he has been there for 31 years and 11 months, after being sentenced in 1984 for the murders of seven female hikers in Santa Cruz and Marin counties around San Francisco.[Murderpedia]

Related: Are We Out of the Woods Yet? 17 Grisly and Outdoorsy Murder Cases

Joseph Naso
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Naso, 82, has only been on Death Row for two years and 11 months. Naso was dubbed the “Alphabet Killer” in honor of the names of his victims. All four women had names where their first and last names started with the same letter. He was convicted in 2013 and sentenced to death for the rape and murder of four women over two time periods, the late 1970s and the early 1990s. Making matters worse, over the course of his trial, police discovered a “rape journal” detailing other crimes. That journal, among other writings found in a 2010 search of his home, helped police crack the long-cold 1977 and 1978 cases.
[SF Gate]

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