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Teen's Killer Won't Challenge Appointment of New Parole Judge

March 11, 2001|RICHARD FAUSSET | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Concerned that an appeal may extend his client's time in prison, a lawyer for convicted murderer Robert Rosenkrantz said Saturday that he will not challenge a state appeals court ruling ordering a new judge to hear his client's parole case.

Gov. Gray Davis had sought the removal of the judge who last September ordered the state parole board to release Rosenkrantz. Davis blocked his parole and Rosenkrantz sued.

"It's going to be reassigned to a new judge, and the case is going to go forward immediately," said Rowan Klein, Rosenkrantz's attorney. "Otherwise, we would have to wait a year or two for an appeal to the Supreme Court. . . . This is all potentially keeping Mr. Rosenkrantz in custody."

Rosenkrantz, 33, is serving time for the 1985 slaying of a fellow Calabasas High School student who exposed Rosenkrantz as gay.

Rosenkrantz has become a political test case for Davis' tough stand on parole for killers. Since taking office, Davis has granted parole just once in more than 30 cases.

After Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Kathryne Ann Stoltz ordered Rosenkrantz's release, Davis argued that Stoltz was "prejudiced" and sought to have her removed from the case. A spokesman for the state attorney general's office, which represents Davis, said last November that Stoltz cannot be impartial because she "has issued strongly worded orders."

Davis won that legal battle last month, when, in a 2-1 decision, the 2nd District Court of Appeal in Los Angeles ordered Stoltz's removal.

Rosenkrantz used an Uzi to kill Steven Redman, 17, of Calabasas, after Redman told Rosenkrantz's parents their son was homosexual. He was convicted of second-degree murder in 1986, and is serving a sentence of 17 years to life.

Rosenkrantz has by all accounts been a model inmate. The Superior Court judge who presided over his trial and a detective who investigated the case have called for his release--as have gay rights activists who view Rosenkrantz's outing as a hate crime.

And Davis' critics have used the case to argue that the governor is too rigid on parole.

The governor, noting the "viciousness" of Rosenkrantz's crime, has held firm. Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca and Larry Diamond, the deputy district attorney who prosecuted Rosenkrantz in 1986, have supported Davis' decision.

The legal tussle over Rosenkrantz's release began in 1996, when a three-member panel of the Board of Prison Terms found Rosenkrantz eligible for parole. The full board reversed the decision, then changed course again after Judge Stoltz ordered it to do so. Davis then stepped in to block Rosenkrantz's release.

Klein said he expects a new judge to be appointed to the case within the next few days.

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