The ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in Walker v. Martel is available in Adobe .pdf format.
The Silicon Valley Mercury News reports, "Condemned Santa Clara County killer to stay on death row," by Howard Mintz.
Citing "horrendous crimes," a federal appeals court on Thursday reinstated the murder conviction and death sentence of condemned Santa Clara County killer Marvin Pete Walker Jr., one of the longest serving inmates on California's death row.
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a federal judge's previous ruling that set aside Walker's 1980 murder conviction and death sentence. The Circuit Court rejected the argument that the jury's verdict was tainted by Walker having been improperly shackled in front of jurors throughout the trial. It was not "reasonably probable" the shackling influenced the jury's decision, the appeals court concluded.
Walker's shackling was "trivial in comparison to the magnitude of his crimes," 9th Circuit Judge Barry Silverman wrote for the court.
Judge Ronald Gould partially dissented from the decision, saying he would have left the murder conviction intact but overturn the death sentence. Gould wrote that he had "grave doubt about whether Walker still would have been sentenced to death" if the jury had evaluated his case without seeing him in leg shackles during the trial, given his background and the fact he was a teen at the time of the crime.
U.S. District Judge Saundra Brown Armstrong in 2011 overturned Walker's death sentence, saying that forcing him to "wear visible and painful restraints ... undermined the dignity of the judicial process."
"Death penalty restored for San Jose man," by Bob Egelko for the San Francisco Chronicle.
A federal appeals court reinstated the death sentence Thursday for a San Jose man who killed a teenage employee during a 1979 liquor store robbery, saying the verdict was not affected by shackling that forced defendant Marvin Walker to limp to and from the witness stand.
U.S. District Judge Saundra Brown Armstrong had granted Walker a new trial in 2011, saying the jury may have been swayed by a plastic knee brace that sheriff's officers had fastened under one of Walker's pant legs. The trial judge never stated any reason for the shackling, and the jury deliberated at length on both Walker's guilt and his sentence, Armstrong noted.
In overruling Armstrong, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the shackle was unobtrusive, the evidence of Walker's guilt was strong and his crimes were "unspeakably cruel" - killing one employee and wounding two others during one robbery, and pistol-whipping, molesting and shooting a woman during another holdup a month later.
The panel voted 3-0 to reinstate his convictions and 2-1 to reinstate his death sentence.
"Leg Shackle Didn't Bias Jury, 9th Circuit Rules," is the Courthouse News Service report by Annie Youderian.
The leg shackle on a man convicted of capital murder likely did not sway the jury at trial, the 9th Circuit ruled Thursday, reinstating his convictions and death sentence.
The federal appeals panel in San Francisco overturned a federal judge's decision to grant the habeas petition of Marvin Pete Walker after he lost his appeal at the state level.
Walker had argued that his lawyer's failure to object to the knee restraint he wore under his pants at trial amounted to ineffective assistance of counsel, because the brace made him walk with a limp.