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Court Won't Interfere in Placing of Singleton

May 15, 1987|DAN MORAIN | Times Staff Writer

SAN FRANCISCO — The state Supreme Court refused Thursday to stop state parole authorities from placing ax-wielding rapist Lawrence Singleton where they see fit.

The Department of Corrections plans to announce as early as today that it has placed Singleton, although it is doubtful that officials will name the county for fear of local outcry. Department spokesman Robert Gore said Singleton most likely will be placed in Northern California because he lived here before his 1979 conviction.

The high court denied an appeal by the City of San Francisco without comment and without a single vote in favor of hearing the case. The city had appealed a state Court of Appeal decision of a week ago that said counties had no right to block the state from placing parolees.

San Francisco officials had argued that the city already has its fair share of parolees and that easy availability of drugs and alcohol here would make Singleton's placement especially dangerous, both to himself and others.

"Obviously, we're disappointed," City Atty. Louise Renne said. "We're trying to explore what other options we might have."

Singleton was paroled after serving eight years for raping and hacking off the forearms of a 15-year-old teen-age runaway in 1978. Parole agents have ferried Singleton, who continues to deny guilt, from hotel to hotel in Northern California since his release from the California Men's Colony at San Luis Obispo on April 25.

The court's action, taken three days after it received San Francisco's appeal, appears to end the legal and political battle that has raged since Singleton was released.

While politicians in Sacramento proposed legislation, local politicians passed resolutions demanding that Singleton not be placed in their cities and counties.

Three counties sued. Two of them, San Francisco and Contra Costa, won Superior Court orders barring Singleton's placement, but those orders were reversed by the Court of Appeal.

San Francisco's appeal was based on an announcement by the state that it planned to temporarily place Singleton in San Francisco until it found him a permanent home. Contra Costa had planned to sue next week.

"This is a clear indication that our position was right and the counties' positions were wrong," Deputy Atty. Gen. Morris Lenk said.

County Could Sue

However, the legal wrangling could continue once authorities find Singleton a home. A county could sue, claiming that the state overreached its authority, and ask a judge to force him out, Lenk and others noted.

In the ruling upheld on Thursday, the 1st District Court of Appeal said counties have no power to "prevent the return of undesirable parolees to their respective jurisdictions."

The appeal court also said the state should have given first consideration to placing Singleton in San Diego County, where he was tried after pretrial publicity prompted authorities in Stanislaus County to conclude that he would not receive a fair trial there. But placement in San Diego County remains unlikely because Singleton has never lived in Southern California.

Corrections Department officials first proposed paroling him to Contra Costa County. But local opposition forced them to look to other states, only to have him rejected by Florida and Nevada.

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