Davis appeals may last another 10 years

June 1, 2009 6:42:36 PM PDT
In Petaluma on Monday, attention turned back to a crime that happened in 1993 -- the kidnap and murder of Polly Klaas. The appeal by her convicted killer has been moving slowly through the system and this week the State Supreme Court said Richard Allen Davis should be executed.

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In Petaluma, it could just as easily passed unnoticed that had Polly Klaas not been kidnapped and murdered, she would be a 28-year-old woman.

"It was a very, very long time ago, but it changed a whole city, it changed Petaluma. It changed a lot of towns," said Petaluma resident Mireille Saylor.

For Saylor and the rest of Petaluma, memories returned as the California Supreme Court upheld the death penalty conviction of Richard Allen Davis for killing Polly Klaas. That this case is still going on appalls her father.

"How fair is this to me and my family? It's not fair at all. Because every time this character rears his ugly head, it reminds us again, in the most graphic terms, of exactly what happened all those years ago," said Marc Klaas.

Davis made several appeals, including one claim that did not get a fair trial in the Bay Area. He also argued that his jailhouse confession, without a lawyer, should not be used as evidence. The Supreme Court ruled against him because at the time, police still hoped they would find Polly alive.

"The poor and despised are entitled to rights against self-incrimination," said Phillip H. Cheney, an attorney for Davis. "We will continue?in federal court."

"If this were a baseball game, this would be the second or third inning of a nine inning game," says defense attorney Robert R. Bryan.

Bryan has fought many death penalty cases. One reason they move so slowly is just due to sheer numbers.

"There are roughly 700 people sitting on death row at San Quentin, and the court can't spend all of its time dealing with the California Supreme Court on death penalty cases," says Bryan.

By one estimate, the Richard Allen Davis appeals case may last another 10 years.

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