LOS ANGELES (CNS) - A man who had been on death row for the 1985 killings of two college students was re-sentenced today to life in prison without the possibility of parole after Los Angeles County prosecutors stipulated that he had made a legitimate claim of intellectual disability that makes him ineligible for capital punishment.
Stanley Bernard Davis, now 60, was sentenced to death in 1989 for the Sept. 30, 1985, killings of UCLA freshman Michelle Ann Boyd, 18, and Cal State Northridge sophomore Brian Harris, 20.
The two were abducted in Westwood and found dead in a field near a high school on Mulholland Drive. They had both been shot in the head.
Jurors found true the special circumstance allegations of multiple murder, murder during the commission of a robbery and murder during the commission of kidnapping for robbery.
The jury also convicted Davis of robbery and kidnapping for robbery of the two students, along with grand theft auto and arson of Harris' car and the May 27, 1984, kidnapping and robbery of a male UCLA student in Westwood.
“The death sentence imposed against this intellectually disabled person over 30 years ago has been corrected with a sentence to life in prison without the possibility of parole,'' Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascon said in a statement released this afternoon.
The county's top prosecutor opposes the death penalty, contending that it “has been shown to not deter crime, has a history of racial bias and is fiscally irresponsible.''
Davis' conviction and death sentence were initially upheld by the California Supreme Court in a July 2005 ruling. In that opinion, the state's highest court agreed that his conviction for robbing Boyd should be vacated because the prosecution presented evidence of two distinct acts of robbery, but didn't elect which of those two it was relying on to prove that the woman had been robbed.
“We find no basis, however, to set aside the robbery murder special circumstance as to victim Boyd,'' the justices found in the 2005 ruling, noting that “the evidence amply supported these convictions and special circumstances.''
The District Attorney's Office noted that the case has been tied up in costly litigation for more than three decades, with a petition filed on Davis' behalf that included more than 200 exhibits documenting evidence that he met the legal criteria for an intellectual disability.
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