Man convicted in 1993 Polly Klaas kidnapping, murder asks for death sentence to be overturned

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Saturday, April 6, 2024
Man convicted in Polly Klaas murder asks for sentence to be overturned
Richard Allen Davis, the man convicted of kidnapping and murdering 12-year-old Polly Klaas, is asking for his death sentence to be overturned.

SANTA CLARA COUNTY, Calif. (KGO) -- A Friday hearing was held for a judge to decide whether Richard Allen Davis is eligible for a resentencing.

Davis was sentenced to death but now his attorneys are fighting for that sentence to be overturned.

The kidnapping and murder of 12-year old Polly Klaas captured the world's attention.

It happened in Petaluma back in 1993.

She was taken at knife-point from her own bedroom at a slumber party.

Her body was found months later.

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Richard Allen Davis was eventually convicted in the case and sentenced to death 28 years ago.

Polly's father Marc Klaas was there for the sentencing.

"I might have said something to the effect that this is finally over," Marc Klaas said reflecting back to that day, "Yet, here we are 30 years later."

Now, Davis wants a judge to overturn his sentence.

He didn't appear in court on Friday, but his attorneys went before a judge.

They say that a recent criminal justice reform law should apply to him.

Legal analyst Steven Clark has followed the case from the beginning and was in court for the most recent hearing.

"Richard Allen Davis not only was convicted of murdering Polly Klaas, but he had enhancements for having prior prison sentences," said legal analyst Steven Clark who has followed the case from the beginning and was in court for the most recent hearing.

"And the California Legislature has said those cannot be used any longer to implement these very lengthy sentences. So many people are being returned from prison in order to be re-sentenced," he said.

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Davis' attorneys say that under the new rules, his sentencing needs to be reviewed.

Marc Klaas says he has been blindsided by this new possibility.

"They've used a new law, a new trick, to re-litigate this thing, to bring it back into the public view. To bring it back into my mind," he said.

"I don't think about Richard Allen Davis, until something like this happens. So here we are 30 years after the fact and I'm having to relive my daughter's murder again and that's just so terribly unfair," Klaas said.

Though the case is being heard in Santa Clara County, the DA's office in Sonoma County, where the crime was committed, is the one fighting it.

Neither the prosecutor nor Davis's attorneys gave statements after the Friday hearing.

"What the prosecution argued is that this legislative intent never applied to the death penalty," Clark said. "What they're saying is, there's rules to get around the death penalty, but that's through the habeas corpus procedure, not an end run by utilizing this new resentencing guideline."

Though the death penalty has been put on hold in California under Governor Gavin Newsom, Clark said the decision made in the Santa Clara County courtroom could have major ripple effects moving forward.

"This case is likely to go higher up on appeal to decide just how far the courts are going to go here to look at these death penalty cases under the sentencing guidelines that have now been imposed by the legislature, it is a case of first impression, Clark said.

"It's not clear how this is going to end up but clearly this is the type of case that the Supreme Court will have to weigh in on," Clark continued.

The Santa Clara County judge plans to issue his ruling on May 31.

If the judge decides that Richard Allen Davis's sentencing can be overturned, that resentencing would happen at a later date.

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