SAN FRANCISCO (AP) – A federal appeals court on Wednesday reversed the conviction and death sentence of a man condemned for the 1982 killings of two Riverside police officers.
A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Jackson Daniels Jr., 67, had ineffective counsel, and that the judge should have moved the trial from Riverside County because of intense pretrial publicity.
The appeals court ruled Daniels had two rookie criminal defense attorneys who had never tried a murder case, and that a judge had given them only three months to prepare.
The attorneys failed to inform the jury of his mental illness, and instead tried to convince panelists that Daniels was not the culprit, despite contrary testimony.
“It is clear in this case that Daniels shot the two officers and is guilty of some type of unlawful killing,” Judge Harry Pregerson wrote for the San Francisco-based appeals court. “There was evidence that his mental state at the time of the offense could have been used as a defense to first-degree murder.”
Daniels, who uses a wheelchair, was sent to death row for killing officers Dennis Doty, 35, and Philip Trust, 36, who were sent to arrest him when he failed to show up for sentencing in a bank robbery case.
Ingrid Wyatt, spokeswoman for Riverside County District Attorney Grover Trask II, said the office was exploring options on whether to appeal, but ultimately would retry Daniels instead of setting him free.
“I can safely say we would retry the case,” Wyatt said. “This was a serious crime.”
Judge Harry Pregerson was appointed by none other then Jimmy Carter in 1979. Thanks to him this is the kind of result we get, where the Judge say’s the guy is guilty but let’s spend millions more to retry the case since he had rookie lawyers. Wtf!