Tuesday, August 27, 2002
Court Rejects Ineffective Assistance Claim in Triple-Murder Case
By a MetNews Staff Writer
A defendant sentenced to death for a Los Angeles triple murder did not receive ineffective assistance of counsel, the state Supreme Court ruled yesterday.
In a 5-2 decision, the justices said Jesse James Andrews’ trial lawyers made a reasonable tactical decision not to present mitigating evidence of Andrews’ difficult life. If the evidence had been presented, Justice Janice Rogers Brown wrote for the court, there could have been “damaging” rebuttal emphasizing Andrews’ extensive criminal history.
The court largely upheld the findings of Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Jacqueline Connor, who was appointed to conduct an evidentiary hearing on Andrews’ ineffective assistance claim. His direct appeal was rejected in 1989.
Andrews was sentenced to die for the 1979 murders of Preston Wheeler, Patrice Brandon and Ronald Chism. They were stabbed or shot several times and the woman was raped at Wheeler’s apartment, where the bodies were found and $300 stolen.
In dissent, Justice Joyce L. Kennard agreed with Andrews’ assertion of ineffective assistance of counsel. Kennard, joined by Justice Carlos Moreno, said a reasonably competent lawyer would have presented more mitigating evidence, particularly with respect to the defendant’s mental health.
“Counsel had consulted no psychiatrists, psychologists, neurologists or other experts who might have been able to offer some insight as to why petitioner committed the three murders in this case,” Kennard wrote.
The case is In re Andrews, 02 S.O.S. 4483.
Copyright 2002, Metropolitan News Company