Unit 1012 Cover Photo

Unit 1012 Cover Photo

Wednesday, March 13, 2019


“Countries that give up the death penalty award an unimaginable advantage to the criminal over his victim, the advantage of life over death.”

On 13 March 2019, Newsom announced that he has ordered a moratorium on the state's death penalty, preventing any execution in the state as long as he is still in office as governor. We, the comrades of Unit 1012: The VFFDP, want you to hear from murder victims’ families who are unhappy about the decision.

Mothers of murder victims speak out against Gov. Newsom's moratorium on death penalty

Two mothers of murder victims – Sandy Friend and Phyllis Loya – meet with Sacramento County District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert on Wednesday, March 13, 2019 to oppose the moratorium on the death penalty declared by California Gov. Gavin Newsom.

Two mothers whose sons were murdered embrace after meeting with Sacramento District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert. Phyllis Loya, left, and Sandra Friend, right, met with Schubert, far right, in response to California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s moratorium on the death penalty on Wednesday, March 13, 2019 in Sacramento. Loya is the mother of slain Pittsburg police officer Larry Lasater Jr. and Friend is the mother of 8-year-old Michael Lyons, who was abducted in Yuba City, then tortured, raped and murdered.
Renee C. Byer rbyer@sacbee.com

Remember the victims. Death row is filled with killers, not martyrs
March 13, 2019 05:48 PM

The death penalty is effectively dead in California thanks to an executive order signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom on Wednesday, and progressives across the nation are cheering.

From singer John Legend to movie star Susan Sarandon to rapper Common to reality TV star Kim Kardashian and many other A-list cultural luminaries, the tweets of praise soared across Twitter after Newsom’s order provided a “reprieve” for all people sentenced to death in California.

The governor has the right to issue reprieves and even hard-core, pro-death penalty supporters such as Kent Scheidegger of the Sacramento-based Criminal Justice Foundation thinks legally challenging Newsom’s action would take a Hail Mary shot.

Personally, I would join in the cheering of Newsom if I weren’t haunted by the heinous details of unspeakable crimes committed by some of the men spared by Newsom’s pen and his flair for the dramatic.
Remember the victims? They received only passing mention from the governor after he announced his reprieve and, quite frankly, this is a weakness in the progressive movement – the inability to acknowledge that some convicted death row inmates really are guilty, some really did commit heinous acts. Some really aren’t worthy of sanctification for the purposes of making anti-death penalty arguments.


Meanwhile, have ever heard of Michael Lyons?

But for one of the men spared by Newsom, Michael Lyons would be about 30 today. Maybe he would have grown into a man who did good things for his community. Maybe he’d be that guy you knew and liked. He might have been a father by now, which would have been a blessing for his mom, Sandra Friend. 

But in 1996, Michael Lyons was murdered at the age of 8. And honestly, Lyons wasn’t just murdered. 

To call what happened to Michael Lyons in a wooded area near Yuba City a murder is a misuse of the word. In truth, Michael Lyons was abducted, ravaged and tortured. His killer – an already convicted, violent sex offender named Robert Boyd Rhoades – did things to him that I cannot write here because they are too horrific.

The last time I wrote about Michael Lyons in 2012, I had long debates with my editors about what we could and could not share. My argument was this: That we in the media sanitize the crimes involving death row inmates by strictly hewing to industry norms of “good taste.”

And by sanitizing these crimes, we give the public a distorted picture of death row inmates. To hear Gov. Newsom talk on Wednesday, one might have thought that death row was populated by men who could be played by Denzel Washington or Bradley Cooper in a movie. 

No one would want to play Rhoades in a movie. And when my piece about what he did to Lyons was published, this is what I was allowed to share:

”(Lyon’s) blood was found on Rhoades’ knife, which was found in his truck along with Rhoades’ underwear. (Lyons’) throat was slashed on both sides of his neck. Lyons was stabbed on both sides of his abdomen and above his left nipple. He had puncture wounds on his hip and buttocks and eight stab wounds under his chin. He had defensive wounds on his hands, which investigators believe showed that he was trying to stop Rhoades as Rhoades tortured him.

“An autopsy showed Lyons had internal injuries from a sexual assault that DNA evidence showed had been committed by Rhoades. Investigators believe Rhoades twisted the knife in Lyons several times to inflict greater pain.

“They found Lyons lying face up in the brush on the west bank of the Feather River. He was naked from the waist down. His Batman T-shirt was pulled over his face.”

That’s not even the worst of it. But when I gave a talk to a community group a few days after these words were published, an older woman approached me as I was leaving and scolded me for publishing such graphic details. They were “offensive,” she said.

I wanted to scream at her, “Offensive? Yeah, they are very offensive. That is the point. “ 

No one wants to read these words over morning coffee. No one wants to know about these horrible crimes, but they happen. In California, fewer than 2 percent of murders becomes death penalty cases. They really are the worst of the worst. They really prove that evil lives in our world.

So now that Newsom essentially made sure no one is executed while he’s governor, I’m not going to slam him. Maybe history will prove that state-sanctioned killing was wrong on principle. My Catholic bishop certainly believes that.

But in making the principled argument, progressives too easily forget the people whose loved ones suffered and died at the hands of men who don’t deserve to be viewed as a discriminated class without at least the acknowledgment of what they did to wind up on death row.

Is there a concern that California has previously put innocent people to death?
Men condemned to death in California are held at San Quentin Prison. Here's a look at the state's death penalty from 1967 up to Governor Gavin Newsom's moratorium. 

One that comes to mind as a maybe is Tom Thompson, an Orange County man executed in 1998. A federal appeals court judge wrote that Thompson was “likely innocent” of the rape and murder that resulted in his execution. While one of Newsom’s justifications for stopping the death penalty is that it is applied unequally to people of color, Thomson was white.

But if it’s true that Thompson was innocent – and we’ll never know – then that is reason enough to stop state sanctioned killing. Or if Newsom wanted, he could grant reprieves to individuals whose cases have doubt. He could do this while letting the clear-cut cases of murderers go forward to satisfy the will of California voters who have consistently supported the death penalty. Who are we talking about? One is Luis Bracamontes, the undocumented immigrant sentenced to death last year after murdering two law enforcement officers in a 2014 crime spree that terrorized the Sacramento region. Bracamontes was the man who laughed and joked all the way through his trial and sentencing.

“Some people should get the punishment they deserve,” said Scheidegger.

This is true.

But Newsom is stopping the whole enterprise and people are cheering. We’re looking at progressive California in 2019, where victims don’t have much standing unless we are talking about people shot and killed by police.

In this Oct. 30, 2015 file photo, Marc Klaas, far left at podium, father of Polly Klaas, who was kidnapped and slain in 1993; Scott Jones, Sacramento County sheriff; L.A. County District Attorney Jackie Lacey and Sheriff Jim McDonnel join other victims' rights advocates, community leaders, and elected officials to announce efforts to place an initiative on the 2016 ballot to streamline the death penalty in California. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)

Appalling, disgusting, horrific: Families speak out against death penalty reprieve
March 13, 2019 12:46 PM,
Updated March 13, 2019 05:50 PM

Disgusting. Appalling. A punch to the gut.

Law enforcement leaders and family members waiting to see their loved ones’ killers put to death reacted with these sentiments and others Wednesday to Gov. Gavin Newsom’s announcement that he was effectively scrapping California’s death penalty and granting reprieves to more than 700 death row inmates.

“It’s just an open wound that never heals,” said Richard Mobilio, whose 31-year-old son David, a Red Bluff police officer, was gunned down in an ambush in 2002 and who has been waiting for the killer to face execution since the 2005 conviction in the case.

“I’m very disappointed,” said Mobilio, who learned from news reports that his son’s killer, Andrew Mickel, would be given a reprieve along with the other condemned inmates.

“We’re not forgivers and forgetters in this regard,” Mobilio said. “I hate to be so obviously a case of ‘vengeance is mine,’ but I have to be honest with you ... I want to see him pay the penalty.”

Mickel is now 40, and Mobilio said Wednesday that he still holds out hope that the inmate may someday face execution under a different governor.

“If there is a prospect that he pays that penalty, I fully support it,” he said. “Whatever it takes legislatively or through whatever vehicles there might be.”

Marc Klaas, whose 12-year-old daughter Polly was kidnapped from her Petaluma home and murdered in 1993 by Richard Allen Davis, had a similar reaction.

“Obviously, I’m appalled,” Klaas said as he was conducting a series of media interviews about the governor’s decision. “I’m appalled by him doing that, and I’ve got plenty of reasons.”

Newsom, in a news conference at the state Capitol, insisted he has the authority to halt the execution process in the state and said that the apple-green death chamber at San Quentin State Prison was being dismantled as he made the announcement.

But law enforcement leaders pushed back – hard – at the notion that he could simply ignore the fact that the death penalty is on the books as a California law and that voters have reaffirmed support for it three times in recent years.

“It’s disgraceful to the victims that have waited decades for the imposition of sentences that juries have made, decisions in a state were we have for more than 40 years time and time again said this is an appropriate punishment in the rarest of circumstances,” said Sacramento District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert, whose office helped send a convicted cop killer to death row last April.

“Now, with the stroke of a pen, one person overrides the will of the voters and the decisions that juries have made? I am confident that there will be a lot of statewide effort to determine whether what Gov. Newsom’s doing is even legal.”

Schubert, whose office sent Luis Bracamontes to death row last year for the 2014 slayings of Sacramento County Sheriff’s Deputy Danny Oliver and Placer County Sheriff’s Detective Michael Davis Jr., said her office would not be bowed from seeking death penalty prosecutions in the future where deemed appropriate.

“The voters of California have passed a law saying they want the death penalty, that’s the law,” she said. “He cannot preclude a prosecutor or DA’s office from seeking it.

“There’s nothing stopping us from seeking capital punishment in a case where we feel it’s appropriate.”

Schubert was expected to discuss Newsom’s decision Wednesday with Sandy Friend, the mother of 8-year-old Michael Lyons, a Yuba City boy abducted, raped and tortured for hours in 1996 before being stabbed more than 60 times by Robert Rhoades.

Friend said the governor’s move “has silenced all of us, it’s just absolutely horrific.”
“We’re talking about the worst of the worst,” Friend said of death row inmates. “The worst of the worst he is going to give forgiveness to.

“My son was 8 years old against a 43-year-old man who brutalized him for hours and hours, and tortured him just for the sheer pleasure of doing it. I can’t imagine that lethal injection is an inhumane punishment for him.”

Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones said Newsom’s action defies “the repeated will of the voters.”

“He has also re-victimized the families of sexually tortured and murdered children, murdered peace officers, and other victims of horrific crimes, in favor of the most depraved among us who have been judged and sentenced to death by a jury of their peers,” Jones said in an email. “I would challenge him to reach out to the families of Deputy Danny Oliver and Detective Mike Davis, as well as the families of all those victimized by the 737 violent criminals who have earned their right to face death because of their evil acts, to try and justify this action.”

Placer County Sheriff Devon Bell, who was in court last year with Jones as a jury recommended death for Bracamontes, said he was “profoundly disappointed” by Newsom’s move, and wondered aloud how the decision will impact his deputies, including Detective Davis’ brother, Jason, who is also with the department.

“I just find this so saddening,” Bell said. “ I don’t know what I’m going to say to Jason. I think (deputies) would share my profound disappointment. Our entire agency knows this too well.”

Bell said the fact that there was little chance of Bracamontes facing execution any time soon – no inmate has been put to death in California since 2006 – did not affect his satisfaction in knowing that it was at least possible before Newsom’s announcement.

“Realistically, was he going to be executed in my career? No,” the sheriff said. “But there was some closure in knowing that he was on death row and that could eventually happen.
“Now, that’s all been stayed.”

A woman holds up a sign with ‘Too many terrorists in prison’ written on one side and ‘Kill them all’ written on the other during a rally in Tel Aviv on April 19, 2016 to support Elor Azaria. (Photo: Jack Guez/AFP)
[PHOTO SOURCE: http://mondoweiss.net/2017/08/israelis-palestinian-attackers/ ….. ….. http://victimsfamiliesforthedeathpenalty.blogspot.com/2017/10/a-group-of-50-families-in-israel-for.html]

DA Schubert Joins Victims’ Mothers to Voice Outrage Over Execution Moratorium
Posted 9:23 PM, March 13, 2019, by Rowena Shaddox, Updated at 09:20PM, March 13, 2019

SACRAMENTO -- Some have voiced their disgust after Gov. Gavin Newsom announced his executive order to stop executions of death row inmates in the state.

"See how you would feel in the end if you had to sit in court and listen that your child did not just get murdered," said Sandy Friend. "He got tortured, stabbed repeatedly, up to 70 to 80 times. A 63-pound, little 8-year-old boy."

In 1996, a convicted, violent sex offender kidnapped Friend's son, Michael Lyons, as he walked home from school.

Friend believes the governor did not take victims' families into consideration.

"You have your own child, trade spots. Let me have my baby back," Friend said. "Let me have my Michael back and you put your son over there with Rhodes on that walk home from school. Let's put his son in Michael's place."

It's a heartbreak and anger shared by mothers, like Phyllis Loya.

"Prisoners rights are much more important that victim's rights and that's wrong," Loya said.
In 2005, two bank robbers shot and killed her 35-year-old son, Larry Lasater, a Pittsburg, California cop and a Marine veteran, as Lasater chased them down.

Both were eventually caught and convicted but only one was eligible for the death penalty and was ultimately sentenced to death.

Loya says since Gov. Newsom never met with them before Wednesday's announcement, she would ask him, "What more could my son have possibly have done for the citizens for the state of California, and more specifically for him, that would warrant justice not being ripped from him?"

Sacramento County District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert summed it up with one word -- "disgraceful."

She said the governor ignored the voice of the people who approved Proposition 66 to expedite executions.

"This is a Democracy. This is a system of justice where voters have decided that they want this and they want it fixed," Schubert said. "I'm not going to impose my own personal opinion and that's exactly what happened today."

Activists from Im Tirtzu hang signs across Jerusalem calling for the death penalty for terrorists in wake of murder of Ori Ansbacher.

Victims’ Family Members Rip Newsom over Capital Punishment Moratorium
Posted 4:52 PM, March 13, 2019, by Bridgette Bjorlo and Doug Johnson, Updated at 03:42PM, March 13, 2019

SACRAMENTO -- Loved ones of victims are criticizing Governor Gavin Newsom over his decision to sign a moratorium on the death penalty in California.

"My daughter was a vibrant, 12-year-old child that was hosting a slumber party with two of her girlfriends in the home she shared with her mother in Petaluma, California," Marc Klaas told FOX40 in an interview over Skype.

Klaas' daughter, Polly, was abducted and killed by Richard Allen Davis in 1993.

"He had kidnapped, raped and murdered her and then discarded her remains off the side of a freeway within about a two-hour time frame and felt absolutely no remorse for that at all," Klaas said.

Davis has been sitting on death row since he was convicted and sentenced in 1996. Klaas says he hopes to see Davis die in his lifetime.

"It's the punishment that was handed down. It’s the punishment that he deserves and that others deserve, and it will close an important chapter in Polly’s story," Klaas said.

Newsom's moratorium on capital punishment spares the lives of 737 inmates, including Davis.

"I died a little bit, I really did. I was taken aback," Klaas said. "I became angry, quite frankly, and hugely disappointed."

Klaas calls the governor's decision a travesty of justice.

"The reality is is that he doesn’t care about my situation. He’s more concerned with my daughter’s killer than justice for my daughter," he said.

Klaas believes the majority of Californians support the death penalty and the governor is simply circumventing what he calls "the law of the land." Voters in the state approved a measure in 2016 to expedite the death penalty process.

"It goes against the sentence handed down by a jury of every one these individual's peers," Klaas said. "And based on his own conscience, his own philosophy, his own whim turn his back on that and say there will be no executions in California under my watch. That’s the travesty."

"Because we did vote, Prop. 66 in 2016, that we want this reformed. We want the death penalty to work," said Stacey Birdsong. "In the long run, we’re paying for him to stay on death row. I don’t want to hear about how great of a life he has because Laci doesn’t have a life. Conner doesn’t have a life, he never had life."

Laci Peterson's friends, Stacey Birdsong and Rene Tomlinson, told FOX40 they can’t believe the governor would prevent her murderer, husband Scott Peterson, from being executed.

"No one allowed any kind of moratorium for those victims," Tomlinson said.

"How is it humane how Laci and Conner died? Do you think Scott was humane about how he ended their lives?" Birdsong said.

It's a move that also caused great frustration for David Wallace.

"Yesterday, they were sentenced to death. Today, they’re sentenced to life without," Wallace told FOX40.

In November of 2016, Wallace’s brother, Deputy Dennis Wallace, was shot and killed execution style allegedly by David Machado. Last month, Machado was found mentally competent to stand trial.

"And those guys with life without all of a sudden become life with a possibility," Wallace said.

"Because all it takes is a little bit of comfort and then we move the line a little bit farther over."

However, Gov. Newsom’s moratorium on the death penalty does have some family members of murder victims applauding.

"Why do we kill people who kill people to show that killing people is wrong?" said Aba Gayle.

Gayle's daughter, Catherine, was murdered in 1980. Her killer now sits on death row.

"Don’t kill in my name but far more important to me is don’t kill in Catherine's name because it would dishonor her spirit," Gayle said.


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