A 58-year-old San Quentin inmate who killed two Fullerton residents more than 30 years ago has lost his bid to get the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn his death sentence.
Richard Delmer Boyer had petitioned for a “writ of certiorari” to overturn his death sentence, which was handed down 32 years ago in Orange County. The denial, with Justice Stephen Breyer dissenting, came on Monday.
Boyer was convicted on June 24, 1992, of fatally stabbing 67-year-old Francis Harbits and 68-year-old Aileen Havitz in their Fullerton home. Boyer took the victims’ wallets and fled the scene following the Dec. 7, 1982, attack.
Boyer’s first trial ended with a hung jury, prompting a mistrial. He was found guilty at his second trial in 1984, but the state Supreme Court reversed the conviction because “police officers had obtained evidence by violating his constitutional rights,” according to Breyer’s dissent.
Boyer was convicted again in 1992 and it took 14 years for his case “to wend its way through California’s appellate process,” Breyer wrote.
Boyer questioned whether the Eight Amendment allows for the state to keep a prisoner on death row that long.
“These delays are the result of a system that the California Commission on the Fair Administration of Justice, an arm of the state of California, has labeled ‘dysfunctional,’ ” Breyer wrote.
“Eight years ago, the commission wrote that more than 10 percent of the capital sentences issued in California since 1978 had been reversed. It noted that many prisoners had died of natural causes before their sentences were carried out, and more California death row inmates had committed suicide than had been executed by the state.”
The commission also noted that incarcerating the death row prisoners indefinitely costs 10 times more than sentencing them to life in prison without the possibility of parole when taking into account the expense of the appeals, Breyer wrote in his dissent.
— City News Service