July 5, 1989 |
The battered body of a 15-year-old girl was found along the bank of a sand pit in a small New Jersey town. Her skull had been crushed with a 44-pound boulder and her body beaten with a baseball bat. Edgar Smith, a 23-year-old acquaintance of the girl, was convicted of the murder and sentenced to die in the electric chair. While on Death Row in a New Jersey prison, he began corresponding with conservative columnist William F. Buckley, who eventually became convinced of Smith's innocence.
March 20, 1988 |
David Rothenberg is bound for the Pipeline, an acre of concrete craters in Upland where hordes of teen-age boys flock every day to ride, "tube" and "shred" the walls on skateboards. The most famous burn victim in America and his driver are temporarily lost on a freeway cutting through the Inland Empire. "Uh, I think we passed it," David mutters in that aren't-adults-dumb-sometimes tone that 11-year-olds have.
July 22, 1990 |
It is penal service hiding behind coy euphemisms. Work release. Celebrity diversion. Special programs. They are, in essence, chain gangs without shackles. "I sentence a lot of people to work with Caltrans," said a Los Angeles municipal court commissioner. "Because it is hard work that in the heat of summer becomes hard labor."
February 11, 1994 |
A videotape of the 1992 execution of Robert Alton Harris, prepared for a lawsuit challenging the use of the gas chamber but never shown in court, has been destroyed at a judge's order, court records show. Newly unsealed documents in federal court disclose that the tape was destroyed after state lawyers agreed that they would not offer any new witnesses' testimony about executions if the gas chamber suit is retried.
April 21, 2001 |
Each time the heavy gates clank shut behind him, prison guard Robert Trono enters a violent realm of bitter men with nothing left to lose. The 39-year-old sergeant works in a cramped concrete cellblock that houses 85 killers awaiting execution. It is a place where riot gear, stab-proof vests, biohazard body suits and fear are standard issue. Trono helps oversee inmates known as the Grade-B condemned, the most dangerous of San Quentin prison's 580 death row prisoners.
June 16, 1988
Edmund Kemper III--convicted of killing and beheading eight women, including his mother--was denied parole from prison for the sixth time. A three-member Board of Prison Terms panel cited the "extraordinary degree of violence" in deciding that the 6-foot, 9-inch former construction worker should remain in custody at the California Medical Facility at Vacaville for at least three more years.