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Robert Alton Harris

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CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
April 21, 1992 | AL MARTINEZ
Joe was leaning over a pan of scrambled eggs, stirring them slowly, and saying they ought to execute Robert Alton Harris right now, not wait a second longer, never mind the bleeding heart media. Harold, who was cooking diced potatoes on another camp stove back to back with Joe's, said why not seal off the whole Death Row, fill it with gas and get rid of them all at the same time? The bacon and pork sausages were already cooked, but Joe wasn't satisfied with the eggs yet, they were too watery.
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CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
November 3, 2009 | Carol J. Williams
Melvin Brunetti, a federal appeals court judge for the last 24 years whose opinions included upholding anti-hate crime legislation, broader Pentagon scrutiny of homosexuals' security clearances and the death penalty for Robert Alton Harris, has died. He was 75. Brunetti died Friday at his home in Reno after a long battle with cancer, his family told the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, to which he had been appointed by President Reagan in 1985. He had been on senior status with the appeals court since 1999, a semi-retirement in which a judge is replaced on the active roster but continues to handle a reduced caseload.
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NEWS
September 6, 1992 | DAN MORAIN, TIMES STAFF WRITER
Like a lot of 17-year-olds, Robert Davis was a handful for his mother and stepfather. It's not that he did anything terribly wrong, but he could not do much right either. He argued with his parents, he skipped school, he ran off. This spring, he found himself in the state-run China Springs Youth Camp. There, in April, he heard the news. In San Quentin Prison, the television reporter intoned, a murderer named Robert Alton Harris was about to be executed.
NEWS
August 5, 1997 | MAURA DOLAN, TIMES LEGAL AFFAIRS WRITER
Tensions between the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals and the U.S. Supreme Court have run high ever since the execution five years ago of Robert Alton Harris, the first person executed in California after a 25-year hiatus. Ninth-Circuit judges issued so many last-minute rulings to stop Harris' death that the high court, incensed, took the extraordinary step of ordering the judges in the middle of the night to butt out of the case.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
January 29, 1990 | FRANKLIN E. ZIMRING, Franklin E. Zimring is a professor of law and director of the Earl Warren Legal Institute at UC Berkeley. and
Robert Alton Harris moved a step closer to the California history books this month when the U.S. Supreme Court rejected the fourth appeal of his death sentence. If Harris' further appeals fail to win him a significant delay, he could be executed by this summer for killing two teen-agers in San Diego 12 years ago. His would be the first execution in California in 23 years. It would also probably be the last in the state through the first term of its next governor.
NEWS
April 19, 1992 | JENIFER WARREN, TIMES STAFF WRITER
It has been 25 years since we Californians killed a man in the name of justice. Ronald Reagan was governor back then; Vietnam, civil rights and the Beatles were among our national preoccupations. The condemned citizen was Aaron Mitchell, a lifelong thief whose fateful crime was the murder of a Sacramento policeman. Mitchell's execution echoed enduringly through the state, perhaps because he slashed his forearms and wailed "I am Jesus Christ!" before succumbing to a cloud of cyanide vapors.
NEWS
April 11, 1992 | DAN MORAIN, TIMES STAFF WRITER
It's called Procedure 769, a blandly bureaucratic and mundane title that belies its grim content. In precise detail, over 34 pages, the document describes how the people of California will carry out their first execution by lethal gas in a generation. Honed by years of dry runs, Procedure 769 sets out the ritual of death and enumerates everything the execution team could conceivably need. Six spare light bulbs, two heart monitors, three sets of rubber gloves, eight square feet of cheesecloth.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
April 26, 1992 | ALAN ABRAHAMSON, TIMES STAFF WRITER
Relegated to phone contact only, lawyer Charles M. Sevilla dialed the holding cell where Robert Alton Harris was waiting to walk to his death at San Quentin's gas chamber. Warden Daniel Vasquez answered. The warden and the defense attorney had quarreled over differences in the past, Vasquez acknowledged, but the time for that was over. "This man will be treated right," Vasquez told the lawyer. "I promise you that." "The warden kept his promise," Sevilla wrote in his journal afterward.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
March 22, 1992 | ALAN ABRAHAMSON, TIMES STAFF WRITER
Sharron Mankins has this recurring vision of the day Robert Alton Harris snuffed the life out of her son, Michael Baker. "I can just see these terrified boys," she said. It's July 5, 1978. Harris abducts Michael Baker and his best friend, John Mayeski, both 16, from a fast-food restaurant. He needs their car for a bank robbery. He forces them in the car and drives them a few miles away, to a remote wash near a reservoir.
NEWS
March 29, 1992
What Tim Rutten refuses to accept is that Robert Alton Harris is not being executed. He is forfeiting his life as payment for murdering a human being. Not a deterrent? I beg to differ--Robert Alton Harris will never murder again. LORRAINE GERARD Pomona
NEWS
February 11, 1994 | From Associated Press
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.
NEWS
October 29, 1992 | ALAN ABRAHAMSON, TIMES STAFF WRITER
Joey Abshire, a career criminal and jailhouse informant whose testimony helped convict Robert Alton Harris of murder, was charged Wednesday with perjury for changing his 1979 trial testimony 12 years later at a special court hearing over the legality of Harris' looming execution. At Harris' trial, Abshire helped convict Harris on two counts of murder, testifying that his former cellmate had admitted the July 5, 1978, killings of two 16-year-old San Diego boys, John Mayeski and Michael Baker.
NEWS
October 24, 1992 | PHILIP HAGER, TIMES LEGAL AFFAIRS WRITER
Six months after the execution of Robert Alton Harris, debate still rages in legal circles over the remarkable judicial power struggle and last-minute delays that continued even as Harris sat awaiting death in the gas chamber. "We had a disgraceful performance that night," Judge Stephen Reinhardt of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals said this week to a forum of lawyers. "Some blame the Court of Appeals and some blame the Supreme Court."
NEWS
September 6, 1992 | DAN MORAIN, TIMES STAFF WRITER
Like a lot of 17-year-olds, Robert Davis was a handful for his mother and stepfather. It's not that he did anything terribly wrong, but he could not do much right either. He argued with his parents, he skipped school, he ran off. This spring, he found himself in the state-run China Springs Youth Camp. There, in April, he heard the news. In San Quentin Prison, the television reporter intoned, a murderer named Robert Alton Harris was about to be executed.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
July 15, 1992 | THOM MROZEK, SPECIAL TO THE TIMES
In the first local death penalty verdict rendered since Robert Alton Harris was executed in April, a Superior Court jury recommended Tuesday that a double murderer die in the gas chamber. After deliberating less than four hours, a six-man, six-woman panel decided that Jessie Ray Moffett should die at San Quentin for killing two people eight years apart.
NEWS
June 25, 1992 | TIM RUTTEN
Two months ago, as the pale sun rose on a chilly Tuesday morning, California executed Robert Alton Harris in the gas chamber at San Quentin. By any reasonable standard, that grim event should have closed a case that began more than 10 years ago, when Harris was convicted of murdering two young men in San Diego. And so it has--for everyone but members of the state Assembly's Republican Caucus.
NEWS
April 22, 1992 | DAN MORAIN, TIMES STAFF WRITER
The hiss of flowing liquid was our sign that the execution of Robert Alton Harris had begun. Sulfuric acid filled the two vats beneath his seat. He peered down, between his knees, into his personal abyss. In seconds, he knew, cyanide pellets would drop, react with the acid, and the gas would rise. This was it--he was a dead man. Then, a phone beside the gas chamber rang twice. The sound was loud enough that Harris must have heard it.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
June 23, 1992 | From a Times Staff Writer
The six lawyers who defended executed killer Robert Alton Harris have been ordered to submit documents to a federal grand jury investigating the testimony of a key witness, sources said Monday. None of the six lawyers is a target of the grand jury, which has been at work for at least a month investigating inconsistencies in the testimony of witness Joey Dee Abshire, sources said.
NEWS
May 10, 1992 | PHILIP HAGER, TIMES LEGAL AFFAIRS WRITER
Locked securely in a federal court safe here is the nation's first authorized filming of an execution: a court-ordered videotape of the death of Robert Alton Harris that news organizations plan to seek for broadcast on television. Although a local TV station failed to win approval to film the execution, attorneys say that with the tape officially made for evidence in another case, the way should be clear for its release to the public.
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