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L.A. County's 10 

Death-row inmates and mental retardation

Wednesday, Jun 26 2002
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STANLEY BERNARD DAVIS - Davis, 40, was convicted of shooting to death two college students, Michelle Ann Boyd, 19, and her boyfriend Brian Edward Harris, 20, in September 1985. Davis and three accomplices stole Harris' car and drove them to an area off Mulholland Drive. Police found the murder weapon, an Uzi, under the bed of one of the accomplices. Davis was convicted on the basis of the statements of that accomplice and a jailhouse tape. Davis' mental age was measured at 9 1/2 and his IQ tested at 73. His mother, Ruby Davis, said: "When Stanley was 2 1/2 he was hit by a car and thrown 15 feet. He didn't say a word for three weeks."

JESSE MORRISON - Morrison, 35, was convicted of robbing and shooting to death Cesar Cardenas, a 22-year-old amateur boxer, in Cardenas' home and of the attempted murder of his sister, Lourdes Cardenas, 24, in May of 1989. Morrison scored 76 on an IQ test. Morrison was convicted on the basis of a witness ID and a fingerprint at the victim's home. He turned himself in after seeing his case featured on America's Most Wanted. One unarmed accomplice was sentenced to four years in state prison; a 15-year-old accomplice was convicted of first-degree murder in juvenile court and served a term in CYA. Michael Berry, who was 10 years older and a role model for Morrison, got life without parole.

JACK GUS FARNAM - Farnam, 37, was convicted of killing 55-year-old Lillian Mar in her home near Elysian Park in November 1982, after robbing and raping her. Both of his parents were mentally retarded and incapable of caring for Farnam, who as a child would steal food by crawling into homes through the doggy door. According to a psychiatrist's report, Farnam scored "between 75 and 80" on an IQ test. He had been homeless off and on since age 16. Farnam turned 18 a month before the murder.

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LESTER OCHOA - Ochoa, 41, was convicted of kidnapping, raping and stabbing to death 16-year-old Lacy Corin Chandler; of kidnapping, robbing and raping a second woman, known as Charlotte J.; and of assaulting with a deadly weapon a third woman, known as Yolanda A., between January and June of 1987. According to Ochoa's attorney, the inmate has an IQ of 78. His conviction was based on his confession to the crime. An accomplice in the rape of Charlotte J., Edward Ramage led police to Ochoa in return for a reduced sentence. He served three years in prison.

LAVELL FRIERSON - Frierson, 45, was convicted of robbing, kidnapping and shooting to death Edgardo Kramer, a Peruvian airline employee, in January 1978 near Los Angeles International Airport. In search of a prostitute, Kramer, who had come with a friend to a motel where Frierson was staying, was shot twice in the back of the head. Frierson was convicted on the basis of witness testimony. He scored 90 on an IQ test administered when he was in kindergarten, and 71 on a similar test in ninth grade. More recently his full-scale IQ has been scored at 88. During testing he could not draw a clock or a cube, even when shown the objects to copy. He could not do double-digit addition, such as 10 plus 10, add fractions or do any multiplication.

MAURICIO RODRIGUEZ SILVA - Silva, 42, was convicted of shooting to death two 16-year-old runaways, Walter P. Sanders and Monique Michelle Hilton, and strangling and stabbing his 17-year-old half sister, Martha Kiztler in May of 1984. Silva was born with "gigantism," which enlarges features and can spur uncontrollable rages. In May 2001, the California Supreme Court found that the prosecutor had improperly used peremptory challenges to dismiss five prospective Latino jurors. Silva is awaiting retrial. "His true IQ falls within the range of 74-83," according to a 1999 test.

JESSE EDWARD GONZALEZ - Gonzalez, 44, was convicted in the May 1979 shooting death of Sheriff's Deputy Jack Williams in Gonzalez's home in La Puente. Williams and several other officers broke into the home on a drug bust, and Gonzalez shot Williams with a shotgun. According to court records, Gonzalez has "severe learning disabilities" and as a child attended classes for the mentally retarded -- at age 12 he could not read words like cat and this. Gonzalez maintained that he did not know Williams was a police officer, but that claim was refuted by the prosecution's key witness -- a jailhouse informant who was promised leniency on pending charges in exchange for his testimony.

PAUL PALALAUA TUILAEPA - Tuilaepa, 37, was convicted of killing Melvin Whiddon and shooting three others during a barroom robbery in Long Beach in October of 1986. His IQ, according to court records, is in the "low 70s." A police account of the arrest says that an accomplice, David Laupua, "immediately and spontaneously stated: 'I killed the guy. Let my friend go.'" Tuilaepa's attorney, Ron Slick, had eight clients sentenced to death and was known in some legal circles as "Dr. Death." The guilt phase of Tuilaepa's trial lasted three and a half hours -- the defense presented no evidence. For the penalty phase, Slick put on only three witnesses -- testimony lasted just over three hours.

ANDERSON HAWTHORNE JR. - Hawthorne, 42, was convicted of the shooting deaths of two rival gang members, 19-year-olds Jimmy Mamon and Kirk Thomas, in the parking lot of a South-Central Los Angeles video arcade in December of 1982. Another gang member has repeatedly confessed to family and friends that he committed the crime. Hawthorne, known as "Pee Wee" for his diminutive size, scored 86 and 74 on separate IQ tests administered when he was a child. On two more-recent tests, his IQ has been measured at 71 and 75. In anticipation of last week's U.S. Supreme Court ruling, Hawthorne's attorneys filed a federal petition asking that their client be spared the death penalty based on his mental retardation.

MELVIN TURNER - Turner, 45, was convicted of robbing and shooting to death 35-year-old surgeon George S. Hill Jr. and 44-year-old schoolteacher Jo Ella Champion in an airport hangar in July 1979. In 1986 the court reversed the death-penalty conviction, saying that all three prospective black jurors had been improperly removed from the jury trying the case, a "patent violation" of a defendant's right to a trial by a jury of his peers. Turner, who scored 79 on an IQ test, was retried and again convicted of the murders and sentenced to death. His accomplice, Teague Hampton Scott, was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to 52 years.

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