Governor refuses Michael Morales clemency reconsideration
- U.S. Supreme Court denies stay of execution
California Department of Corrections photo
By Melissa McRobbie, Bay City News Service
February 20, 2006, 6:45 p.m.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has denied a request by an attorney
for condemned inmate Michael Morales that the governor reconsider
granting Morales a clemency hearing.
Morales, 46, was convicted of the 1981 sexual assault and murder
of 17-year-old Terri Winchell of Lodi, and is scheduled to die
by lethal injection at San Quentin State Prison at 12:01 a.m.
Schwarzenegger announced Friday that he had decided not to grant
clemency to Morales, stating, "Morales' claim that he is
a changed man does not excuse the brutal murder and rape of Terri
On Sunday, Kenneth Starr, who is one of the attorneys representing
Morales, wrote to the governor asking him to rethink his decision,
citing reasons including that the judge who sentenced Morales
now opposes his impending execution. Starr sent Schwarzenegger
a follow-up letter on the matter today.
Shortly after 6:30 p.m. today, Schwarzenegger issued a statement
denying Starr's request.
The governor did not make any further comments on the case, except
to reiterate that every clemency decision "is made only after
consideration of all the circumstances and careful deliberation.''
Schwarzenegger's reply to Starr's request has likely sealed Morales'
fate, as his legal options appear to have been exhausted.
This afternoon, the U.S. Supreme Court denied two requests by
attorneys for Morales for a stay of execution.
The appeals involved two different arguments regarding the attorneys'
allegations that California's current lethal injection process
is unconstitutional cruel and unusual punishment, and that a key
prosecution witness lied at Morales' 1983 trial.
Morales' attorneys were not available for comment about the Supreme
Court's rejection of their appeals.
Nathan Barankin, a spokesman for the state attorney general's
office, said he is not aware of any pending legal actions by Morales'
"There are no more legal appeals outstanding,'' Barankin
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