Attorneys for convicted killer in Polly Klaas case seeks to overturn death sentence

Attorneys representing one of California’s most notorious convicted murderers are seeking a review of his death sentence. Richard Allen Davis was found guilty in 1996 of the kidnapping and murder of 12-year-old Polly Klaas. Polly had been hosting a sleepover at her mother’s home in Petaluma with two friends when Davis abducted her in 1993.

Davis had a significant criminal history prior to this conviction, and his case played a role in the establishment of California’s three-strikes law. Now, decades later, Davis’s lawyers argue that he should be resentenced.

Marc Klaas, Polly’s father, attended the hearing at Santa Clara County Superior Court on Friday. “In 1996, when the trial concluded, I stepped in front of the cameras and said ‘Finally, this was over,'” he recalled. “Yet here I am 30 years later, and this guy has gotten every consideration under the law since the day he was arrested.”

Recent criminal justice reforms in California, driven by prison overcrowding, have led lawmakers to reconsider certain enhancements that were added to sentences, especially for less serious crimes like drug offenses. Davis’s legal team is aiming to leverage these reforms to his advantage, focusing on laws such as SB 483, introduced by State Senator Ben Allen.

Allen issued a statement on Friday evening in response:

“Davis can assert whatever legal arguments he likes, but our legislation was not intended to overturn the death sentences of convicted child killers like him. Any suggestion otherwise is incorrect. SB 483 allows the court to reconsider only the two one-year enhancements Davis received due to prior felony convictions. The court determines this based on the judge’s assessment of public safety interests. The statute does not mandate reconsideration of his death sentence, which is subject to a separate sentencing procedure unaffected by our bill. This is a desperate move by Davis and his legal team, and they are on shaky legal ground. I fully support the prosecutors in this matter and expect them to succeed in court, offering my assistance if needed.”

Legal analyst Steven Clark shared his thoughts on the situation, suggesting that the court will carefully consider whether the guidelines apply to Davis and his death penalty sentence or if they should only be applied to other sentencing scenarios. Clark also noted that this case could establish a precedent for future cases in California.

During Davis’s time on death row, executions have been halted under a moratorium signed by Governor Gavin Newsom. The judge did not issue a ruling on Friday, and the next hearing is scheduled for May 31.

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