Wednesday, December 3, 2014
Condemned Inmate Charles Richardson Dies of Natural Causes
By a MetNews Staff Writer
Condemned inmate Charles Keith Richardson, 52, died of natural causes yesterday, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation said in a release.
The department said Richardson died at the Correctional Treatment Center at California State Prison-Corcoran.
Richardson arrived on Death Row in October 1992, having been sentenced in Tulare Superior Court for the 1988 rape and murder of 11-year-old April Holley. The victim was found dead in the bathtub of her family home.
A jury found Richardson guilty of rape, burglary, child molestation, sodomy and murder and reached a death penalty verdict. The verdict and sentence were upheld by the state Supreme Court, which found that any errors by the trial judge were harmless, in 2008.
At the same time, the court denied a habeas corpus petition brought by Richardson attacking the denial of his motion for DNA testing of four pubic hairs taken from the bathtub. It was one of the first rulings under Penal Code §1405, which permits a court to order such testing after conviction.
At trial, one prosecution expert had testified that two of the four came from Richardson, another said all four came from him, and two defense experts said they doubted that any of the hairs were Richardson’s.
In denying the motion, Judge William Silveira Jr. concluded that even if the hairs weren’t Richardson’s, he would have been convicted, and a death penalty verdict returned, based on other evidence. The Supreme Court, in an opinion by then-Justice Carlos Moreno, agreed.
Richardson’s convicted accomplice, Steven Allen Brown, was also sentenced to death in Tulare County for Holley’s murder and has been on death row since March 1, 1996. The state high court unanimously affirmed his conviction and sentence earlier this year, saying it was not improper for the defendant to be allowed to tell the jury that he preferred the death sentence to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.
The CDCR said that since 1978, when California reinstated capital punishment, 66 condemned inmates have died from natural causes, 23 have committed suicide, 13 have been executed in California, one was executed in Missouri and six have died from other causes. There are 749 people on California’s death row.
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