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Judge Promises an Early Ruling on Wisely's Bid for New Trial

December 16, 1987|RAY PEREZ | Times Staff Writer

Arguments on a motion by convicted murderer Willie Ray Wisely for a new trial concluded Tuesday in Municipal Court in Santa Ana, with the judge saying he would rule within days.

If Wisely's motion is denied, he could finally be sentenced after more than four years of legal maneuvering to avoid being sent to Death Row at San Quentin State Prison.

Wisely, 34, presented more than 20 points of contention on why he should be granted a new trial at the most recent hearing. He argued that prosecutorial misconduct and judicial error had been committed and that new evidence has been discovered since his 1982 trial.

Wisely, who spoke almost nonstop during the four-day hearing before Municipal Judge Manuel A. Ramirez, has been in Orange County Jail for six years. He was convicted of murder in the March 9, 1981, death of his stepfather, Robert Bray, 61.

A jury recommended the death sentence after his first trial in 1982, but Superior Court Judge Kenneth Lae set that finding aside and ordered a new penalty trial. A jury again recommended the death penalty in 1983, and Wisely has fought to avoid sentencing ever since.

Ramirez gave Wisely and Burl Estes, the deputy district attorney responsible for fighting Wisely's bid for a new trial, until Thursday morning to file any affidavits they want him to consider before rendering his decision.

The judge will also give both sides an opportunity to present any more information in court Thursday.

"I am now taking everything under submission and will have a ruling, if not Friday, then sometime next week," Ramirez said.

Earlier this week, a federal judge in Los Angeles awarded $43,500 to six American Civil Liberties Union lawyers who provided 300 hours of legal work for Wisely, a jailhouse lawyer who has represented himself since his first murder trial.

U.S. District Judge William P. Gray earlier had awarded Wisely $5,025 in damages for a list of complaints against the county that included lack of adequate sleep during his trial, inadequate time for eating and exercise, and denial of Wisely's right to receive Playboy magazine in jail.

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