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Wilson Denies Bonin's Plea to Halt Execution

February 21, 1996|ERIC BAILEY and KEN ELLINGWOOD | TIMES STAFF WRITERS

SACRAMENTO — Saying "justice delayed is indeed justice denied," Gov. Pete Wilson rejected a clemency plea Tuesday for William Bonin, the notorious "Freeway Killer" who faces execution this week by lethal injection for a brutal murder spree in Southern California 16 years ago.

In a short statement at the Capitol, Wilson said claims by Bonin's attorneys that he was not given adequate legal representation during two trials failed to compel the governor to halt the execution set for 12:01 a.m. Friday.

Bonin's defense team received added setbacks Tuesday when federal judges in Los Angeles and San Francisco denied last-minute efforts to block the execution.

Bonin, who is represented by lawyers in the state public defender's office, is expected to turn to the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals as his attorneys press ahead with last-minute efforts to block or delay his death.

On Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Edward Rafeedie in Los Angeles rejected Bonin's request for a new trial. Bonin's lawyers asserted that the Downey truck driver did not receive a fair trial, alleging that the trial lawyer failed to raise Bonin's childhood abuse and that the prosecution hypnotized a witness and used the perjured testimony of a jailhouse informant.

In San Francisco, U.S. District Judge Marilyn Hall Patel rejected Bonin's claim that he was denied his right to choose the method of execution.

Attempts to reach Bonin's lawyers were unsuccessful.

Wilson had the power to reduce the death sentence against Bonin--convicted of molesting and murdering 14 youths and dumping their bodies along roads in Los Angeles and Orange counties in 1979 and 1980--to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

But the governor said that Bonin's guilt "is beyond dispute," given the killer's confessions and physical evidence linking him to the crimes.

"His case has been argued and examined from every angle up and down the state and federal courts," Wilson said. "William Bonin will never kill again. Clemency is denied."

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