Death Penalty

California’s death penalty on hold again

Posted on May 31, 2013. Filed under: Courts, Death Penalty |

Updated:   05/31/2013 06:25:55 AM PDT

Ensuring California’s death penalty system remains in limbo for the foreseeable future, a state appeals court on Thursday scrapped the state’s latest attempt to update its lethal injection procedures.

In a 28-page ruling, the 1st District Court of Appeal found that state prison officials failed to comply with administrative rules when crafting new regulations more than two years ago.

The unanimous decision of the three-justice panel sends California back to the drawing board, unless the Brown administration takes the case to the California Supreme Court and keeps more than 700 Death Row inmates on an indefinite reprieve.

The appeals court upheld a Marin County judge, who faulted the prison department

The view a condemned inmate would have from a table inside the death chamber is shown during a 2010 tour of the lethal injection facility at San Quentin State Prison. (Eric Risberg/AP file)

for a variety of procedural missteps, including offering no public explanation for why San Quentin officials opted to continue with a three-drug lethal injection method instead of a single-drug execution option being embraced by a number of other states.State officials have indicated in court papers they are exploring the single-drug option, which involves putting condemned inmates to death with one dose of a sedative. Ohio, Washington and Arizona are among the states that have moved to that option to short circuit legal challenges to the three-drug method.

A prison spokesman said state officials are reviewing the ruling but have not decided how to proceed.

Kent Scheidegger, legal director of the pro-death penalty Criminal Justice Legal Foundation, said the ruling was not surprising, although he disputed the court’s finding that violating the administrative rules justifies halting executions. Switching to the single-drug method should thwart further legal challenges to California’s lethal injection procedures, he said.

However, even if the Brown administration moves to single-drug executions, prisons will again have to comply with the administrative procedures to institute the new method, a process that can take more than a year. And states across the country, including California, are struggling to assemble supplies of execution drugs because of resistance from drug manufacturers and other problems.

California has had a moratorium on executions since 2006 as a result of legal challenges to its execution procedures in both the state and federal courts. Death Row has more than 725 inmates awaiting execution, including more than a dozen who have exhausted their legal appeals and would be eligible for immediate execution. Several of those inmates have mounted the lethal-injection court challenges.

In response to a federal judge’s concerns, former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and current Gov. Jerry Brown have both tried to overhaul the state’s lethal injections, revising training for execution team members and building a new execution facility at San Quentin. But the state’s updates have been blocked twice for violating the administrative code, for the most part by failing to offer adequate public review of the proposed changes.

State Justice J. Anthony Kline, writing for the appeals court on Thursday, found California again violated the administrative rules in 2010, rejecting the state’s argument that more than 20,000 comments were submitted and public hearings were held to consider its new lethal injection procedures. The appeals court concluded that the public did not receive all the necessary information, particularly surrounding the prison system’s decision to stick to the three-drug method, which has been challenged because of concerns it can result in a cruel and painful death.

“The public that participated in the (prison system’s) rule-making process was not so fully informed,” the appeals court wrote.

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Paroled Sex Killer Stikes Again Gets Death Penalty for the Third Time

Posted on July 28, 2009. Filed under: Crime, Death Penalty, Parole |

This is an interesting blog post from the Daily Mirror that we thought might be of interest to you.  This article is a strong reminder of how important the role of Parole Board Commissioner is to public safety.  Darryl Thomas Kemp, paroled in 1978 in California, killed again within the first few months after his release.

The Daily Mirror

Larry Harnisch Reflects on Los Angeles History

Paroled Sex Killer Strikes Again, Gets Death Penalty for the Third Time

July 17, 1959, Mirror Cover

July 17, 1959: Darryl Thomas Kemp is linked to the killing of Marjorie Hipperson. He killed again a few months after being paroled in 1978.
July 18, 1959, Darryl Thomas Kemp The nylon stocking murder of nurse Marjorie Hipperson, one of the most sensational Los Angeles crimes of the 1950s, was taken out of its musty files and brought back to life last year for the prosecution of her slayer, an odd little man named Darryl Thomas Kemp who was paroled by the state of California in 1978 only to rape and kill again.The man sentenced to death last month in the 1978 killing of Armida Wiltsey bears little resemblance to the “pint-sized Canoga Park carpenter” of 23 who was arrested in 1959 on charges of kidnapping and raping a woman in Griffith Park while posing as a ranger. At 73, according to news reports, Kemp often dozes behind dark glasses and uses a wheelchair although some doctors say he is faking his mental and physical illnesses and is perfectly capable of walking.

Kemp’s story is a triumph of criminal forensics in which investigators working nearly 50 years apart used crime scene evidence to link him to two notorious unsolved killings. And for supporters of capital punishment, his life highlights the tragedy of failing to enforce the death penalty.


Deep veins of contradiction run through Kemp’s life. One of the women he raped in Griffith Park in 1959 said he pulled her out of her car by her hair and tore at her clothes like a wild man before choking her viciously. But to his family, he was just the opposite. “He was gentle,” his wife, Maria, said. “Sometimes he would be kind of strange, but he was never violent.  He’s not very big or strong and I can’t believe he could commit any kind of violent attack on anyone.”

Born in 1936 in New Jersey, Kemp came to Los Angeles with his family in 1946 and his father got a job with a packing company. The second-oldest of four children, Kemp had a normal childhood, according to his parents, Thomas and Ida, and got good grades in school.

His parents said his behavior changed radically in 1951, at the age of 16, when he was knocked unconscious while playing football. Kemp became moody and “strange,” his father testified in 1959. A defense attorney in the 2008 murder trial said Kemp was dazed and disoriented for two weeks after the injury and didn’t undress before taking showers, according to the Contra Costa Times.

After the injury, Kemp was arrested for the first time, on charges of stripping a car, and his  behavior problems evidently continued. Conflicting news accounts say he was seen by a psychiatrist either a month before — or after –Hipperson was killed.

“Darryl is a sick boy — much sicker than we ever realized,” his parents said after his arrest in 1959, “and we want to see to it that he has the psychiatric treatment he needs.”


July 11, 1957, Los Angeles Times
On July 9, 1957, the night she was killed, Marjorie Lucille Hipperson, 24, had just come home from a wedding shower at Hollywood Presbyterian Hospital where she was a nurse and her fiance, Dr. Walter Deike, was an intern.  He was on duty and called away from the party, so Hipperson wrote him a note before she left:

“Dear Walter: I hope you don’t have too tough a night. Get a lot of sleep.

I love you.


July 17, 1957, Marjorie Hipperson

When she didn’t report for work the next day, Deike came by her apartment at 3737 Los Feliz Blvd. and found her strangled with a nylon and gagged with a washcloth held in place with another nylon. She had been tied at one point and obviously put up a fight with the killer.

The landlady said Dieke came out of the apartment in a state of shock. “She’s dead!” he shouted.

Investigators found that in the previous six months half a dozen women living in apartment houses in the neighborhood had reported intruders and peeping Toms. In fact one of Hipperson’s roommates reported that a young man had barged into the apartment and confronted her while she was lying on her bed. The roommate grabbed her purse off the nightstand and the man laughed and ran.

After that, the roommates had moved out. Hipperson was planning to leave at the end of the month and had already disconnected the phone. Although she had chained the door, the killer had entered through a kitchen window she had left unlatched, police said.

Investigators found numerous fingerprints and hand prints in the apartment, including two that were particularly interesting: One on the wall over the head of the bed and another near the kitchen window.

In the next two years, police fingerprinted 180,000 men in hopes of matching one of them to the prints found in Hipperson’s apartment, but none of them was the killer, The Times said. [That would be 246 men a day for two years, which doesn’t seem likely, but that’s what the paper said].


On July 17, 1959, an unidentified woman was driving along Mt. Hollywood near Vista del Valle Drive in Griffith Park when a man she assumed was a park ranger made her stop and told her: “Turn around, this road is closed.”

Suddenly, he jumped from his truck, pulled the woman out of her car by her hair and dragged her to some bushes, where he “tore at the woman’s clothing like a madman,” a detective said. He ripped off one of her silk stockings and tried to strangle her. When she fought back, he tried to tie her hands.

She later testified that he said: “I am going to murder you like I did the Hipperson woman.”

The woman passed out and awakened when the man opened her eyelids “as if to see if I was dead,” she said. The man rushed to his truck and tried to run her down but he was frightened away by another car.

Four hours later, he was arrested after a chase by two LAPD motorcycle officers who had gotten a description of his truck.

His prints matched one taken from wall over Hipperson’s bed. The killer was identified as Darryl Thomas Kemp.


July 18, 1959, Maria Kemp From his first moment in court in July 1959, it was clear that Kemp was odd. The Times reported that he stood up four times during his arraignment and said; “I have to go home. My wife’s waiting for me.”

Kemp was sullen when he entered the courtroom but quickly became “a sobbing young man apparently near hysteria … staring … frightened.”

The Times said:

A thin quavering voice brought a shocked hush in Municipal Judge Louis Kaufman’s court yesterday. The speaker was Darryl Thomas Kemp, facing arraignment for the brutal murder of nurse Marjorie Hipperson.

“Will you let me go home?” he had asked with the direct simplicity of a child and almost in a child’s voice.

[Judge Louis Kaufmann] “addressed Kemp by name and the prisoner rose slowly to his feet to dumbfound the court with his request so completely out of step with the harsh reality of his presence in the courtroom.

“Do you know why you are here?” asked Judge Kaufman.

“Is she mad at me–my wife?” Kemp asked in the same querulous voice.

Suddenly the prisoner fainted and slumped to the floor.

On New Year’s Eve, Kemp was convicted of murdering Hipperson. The jury found him sane and gave him the death penalty. He was sentenced to death in February 1960 and also received two consecutive prison terms on two counts of rape and one count of kidnapping involving two women he raped in Griffith Park.


Once Kemp was in prison, his case unfolded in slow motion. In March 1960, while on death row, he slashed his wrists with a razor blade, requiring 30 stitches. A year later, the California Supreme Court affirmed his death sentence, set for June 21, 1961.

Two days before Kemp’s date with the gas chamber, Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas granted a stay of execution and in September 1961, Kemp was found to be “presently insane,” a distinction meaning that he was sane at the time of the killing but insane at the present moment.

Kemp was sent to the California Medical Institution at Vacaville, where he was treated until December 1968, when he was transferred to Atascadero State Hospital. In February 1969, doctors said Kemp had regained his sanity, but before he could be returned to death row, the California Supreme Court was forced to reverse his sentence because of a 1968 U.S. Supreme Court decision on improperly excusing prospective jurors over their views on the death penalty.


In May 1970, jury selection began to determine whether Kemp should once again be given the death penalty. By now, much of the evidence had been destroyed, several witnesses had died or disappeared and some of Kemp’s statements were no longer admissible because of the Miranda rights, which had been introduced after he was convicted.

Two months later, despite these challenges, Kemp, now 34, was again given the death penalty for killing Hipperson.

Kemp spent two more years on death row. Then in 1972, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned California’s death penalty. Kemp was among 102 men on death row who became eligible for parole when their sentences were converted to life in prison. He was paroled to Pleasant Hill, Calif., in July 1978 and began a relationship with a woman who had been writing to him while he was behind bars as part of a program at Diablo Valley College.


Armida Wiltsey

Armida Wiltsey, who was killed by Darryl Thomas Kemp in November 1978 while jogging.

On Nov. 14, 1978, Armida Wiltsey, the 40-year-old wife of a Kaiser Steel executive, went jogging on a popular trail around the Lafayette Reservoir, off California 24 between Berkeley and Walnut Creek. A search for her began after she failed to pick up her 10-year-old son from school and a police dog found her body about 60 feet off the running path. She had been raped and strangled after putting up a terrific fight, judging by traces of the killer’s blood found under her fingernails.

According to the Contra Costa Times, investigators eventually decided that Wiltsey had probably been murdered by serial killer Phillip Hughes, a school janitor who was convicted in 1980 of killing three other women and is suspected in many other deaths. In 2000, as DNA testing became more sophisticated, the blood taken from beneath Wiltsey’s fingernails was compared to a sample from Hughes with stunning results: He wasn’t the killer.


In the meantime, Kemp had moved to Austin, Texas, and in 1983, he broke into the home of six university students and raped and choked them, drawing a life sentence.

With Hughes eliminated as a suspect by DNA testing, Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Detective Roxane Gruenheid took up the long-unsolved Wiltsey case. In reading the records, she noticed that investigators had interviewed Darryl Thomas Kemp, a paroled sex killer, two weeks after the Wiltsey murder following his arrest in Walnut Creek as a peeping Tom.

A girlfriend, his former prison pen pal, had provided an alibi for him at the time Wiltsey was killed, but as a precaution, investigators took samples of Kemp’s hair. Although the hair samples had been retained for more than 20 years, they had degraded too much for DNA testing. A Texas judge ordered Kemp to give a blood sample for testing.

He matched.


Darryl Thomas Kemp, 1978

Darryl Thomas Kemp in a 1978 booking photo.

In October 2008, five years after he was linked to the crime, Kemp went on trial in Contra Costa County in Wiltsey’s killing. He was now 72 years old and according to news reports, he wore dark glasses, used a hearing device and dozed in his wheelchair during most of the trial.

Psychiatrists were divided on Kemp’s mental evaluations. Defense experts said he had brain damage while conceding that other analysts said he was faking his mental and physical problems.

Several of Kemp’s victims testified, including one of the women he raped in Texas in 1983 and a woman he raped in Griffith Park in 1959. Prosecutor Mark Peterson told jurors of the Hipperson killing, but was not allowed to add that Kemp had been given the death penalty twice in that case.

During the trial, Kemp’s lawyers mounted a defense that skirted the charges. They said Kemp was guilty of sodomy rather than rape, that he choked Wiltsey to get control of her and didn’t mean to kill her, and that the distance she was found from the jogging path wasn’t enough to constitute kidnapping.

The jury quickly rejected the defense arguments and after two hours’ deliberations, convicted Kemp on Dec. 3, 2008, of first-degree murder. Later that month they gave him the death penalty and in June, at the age of 73, Darryl Thomas Kemp was sentenced to die — for the third time.


Without going too far into armchair psychology, it seems Kemp selected a particular kind of victim. Rather than preying on those engaged in high-risk behavior such as streetwalking or picking up men in bars, Kemp chose wholesome, middle-class women who did nothing more dangerous than leaving a window unlatched, like Hipperson , or venturing into rugged terrain like Griffith Park or Lafayette Reservoir. Based on fragmentary evidence in the public record, none of his victims was a woman who could be expected to come to a bad end.

And in one other tragic parallel, the deaths of Hipperson and Wiltsey were absolutely devastating to the men they left behind.

Deike, who found Hipperson’s body, married another woman, but he drowned in Mendocino Bay five years after the killing and many speculate that it was a suicide.

During Kemp’s sentencing, jurors wept as Wiltsey’s husband, Boyd, testified: “I was just devastated … and that stayed with me day and night for years,” according to the Contra Costa Times. “It made me realize how valuable the things you have are because when you lose them you really know — I really know how much I loved Armida. I probably didn’t show her enough and I regret that.”


After he was sentenced to death last month, Kemp raised his head and opened his eyes, having hunched down in his wheelchair during the trial, according to the Contra Costa Times.

He asked his attorneys: “Is that it?”

Epilogue: Kemp was questioned in 1959 about the killings of Ruth Goldsmith, Barbara Jepson and Esther Greenwald, but the results were never reported. Defense attorneys in his 2008 trial said he raped about 11 women.

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Schwarzenegger changes strategy in execution debate

Posted on February 27, 2009. Filed under: Courts, Crime, Death Penalty |,0,4741751.story

From the Los Angeles Times
In a bid to hasten the return to capital punishment, California will submit revised lethal injection rules for public review rather than keep appealing court decisions that deemed them illegal.

By Carol J. Williams and Maura Dolan

February 24, 2009

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and his lawyers have switched strategies in the legal battle to resume executions, agreeing to submit revised lethal injection protocols for public review rather than continue appealing state court decisions that the redrafted rules are illegal.

FOR THE RECORD: An earlier version of this article said U.S. District Judge Jeremy Fogel imposed a moratorium on executions in California. Fogel issued a ruling that led to the state’s moratorium.

Although the move is intended to speed up a return of capital punishment, conservative law-and-order advocates and victims’ rights groups expressed frustration over the persistent delays.

State officials predict the execution procedures could be approved by a state panel in six months to a year, clearing the way for a federal judge to lift a moratorium on executions.

San Quentin’s death row, the nation’s largest, houses 680 prisoners.

The state attorney general’s office, on behalf of the corrections department, had been fighting a Marin County judge’s ruling 14 months ago that the way the new procedures were drafted violated state law. The 1st District Court of Appeal upheld the Marin County judge in November, and the period for appeal to the California Supreme Court has expired.

“We took a look at the case, and our determination is that the most expeditious way for us to resume the will of the people and carry out capital punishment is to go through the Administrative Procedures Act process in spite of the fact that we disagree with the court rulings,” said Seth Unger, spokesman for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

The act requires that any policy changes affecting more than one institution submit to a 60-day period for public comment. It also requires review by an independent state agency.

Throughout the challenges, the governor and state lawyers have disputed the contention that the new rules needed to go through the paces of the Administrative Procedures Act because only one prison, San Quentin, carries out executions.

While complying with the Administrative Procedures Act for the sake of expediency, Unger said the corrections department was simultaneously asking the California high court to “depublish” the November appeals court decision on grounds that it was “wrongly decided.” He said department lawyers were concerned that the ruling could create administrative havoc across the prison network.

Executions have been on hold for three years while the state, as well as the nation, probed concerns that the three-drug injection regime may have failed to render some condemned men unconscious before the fatal last dose, exposing them to unconstitutional pain and suffering.

California’s last execution was in December 2005, when 76-year-old Clarence Ray Allen was put to death.

U.S. District Judge Jeremy Fogel issued a ruling that led to the state’s moratorium on Feb. 21, 2006, when he effectively stayed the execution of convicted murderer Michael Morales. The judge ordered review of claims that the procedures violated the 8th Amendment ban on cruel and unusual punishment.

Under the former as well as the pending protocols, a barbiturate is supposed to anesthetize the recipient before a second drug induces paralysis and a third stops the heart. If the first drug fails, the second would leave the inmate incapable of expressing the intense pain inflicted by the final dose.

A task force created by the governor in 2007 redrafted execution procedures to ensure proper doses and improve staff training.

But before Fogel could review the changes, Morales’ attorneys brought his challenge in Marin County, where San Quentin is located.

Morales attorney Brad Phillips said he interpreted the state lawyers’ change in tactics to having “simply realized that we are right about the law.”

Kent Scheidegger, legal director of the Criminal Justice Legal Foundation, criticized the state for failing to pursue the public review at the same time it appealed the state court’s ruling.

“If they were going to go the administrative route, they could have started that two years ago when all this came up,” said the top lawyer for the law-and-order group.

Scheidegger also said he was not optimistic that Fogel would move quickly after the state issue is resolved, despite a U.S. Supreme Court ruling last year that similar protocols challenged in Kentucky met constitutional scrutiny.

“Crime victims are going to be outraged,” said Nina Salarno Ashford, executive director of Crime Victims United of California. A witness to five executions who has pronounced them “humane,” Ashford blamed the governor for the latest delay.

A spokeswoman for Schwarzenegger, Lisa Page, would say only that the governor isn’t the official state party in the case brought against the corrections department.

But Schwarzenegger has been an ardent champion of capital punishment, recently observing that he would resume executions “immediately — yesterday,” once the legal obstacles were removed.

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