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Attorney General Seeks Execution Date for Convicted Fresno County Murderer - Clarence Ray Allen
Attorney General Bill Lockyer today requested that the Glenn County Superior Court set the date of January 17, 2006 for the execution of San Quentin Death Row inmate Clarence Ray Allen. The Superior Court likely will consider and act on the Attorney General’s request during a public session on November 18, 2005.
The United States Supreme Court today denied Allen’s last available legal appeal by rejecting his petition for writ of certiorari. In 1982, Allen was convicted and sentenced to death for masterminding the 1980 triple murder of Bryan Schletewitz, Josephine Rocha and Douglas Scott White at Fran’s Market in Fresno, California.
At the time of the Fran’s Market murders, Allen already was serving a life sentence in Folsom Prison for orchestrating the 1974 murder of Mary Sue Kitts. Bryan Schletewitz testified against Allen at the Kitts murder trial. While in Folsom Prison, Allen conspired with fellow inmate Billy Ray Hamilton to murder witnesses who had testified against him, including Schletewitz. When Hamilton was paroled from Folsom Prison, he went to Fran’s Market where Schletewitz worked. He murdered Schletewitz and fellow employees Rocha and White with a sawed-off shotgun and wounded two other people, Joe Rios and Jack Abbott. When Hamilton was arrested five days later he carried a “hit list” with the names and addresses of witnesses who testified against Allen at the Kitts trial, including Bryan Schletewitz.
In 1981, the Attorney General filed charges against Allen and prosecuted the trial in Glenn County due to a change of venue. The trial lasted 23 days, and 58 witnesses were called to testify. Ultimately, the jury convicted Allen of triple murder and conspiracy to murder eight witnesses.
As special circumstances making Allen eligible for the death penalty, the jury also found that Allen had previously been convicted of murder, had committed multiple murder, and had murdered witnesses in retaliation for their prior testimony and to prevent future testimony. During a seven-day penalty phase, the Attorney General introduced evidence of Allen’s career orchestrating violent robberies in the Central Valley, including 10 violent crimes and six prior felony convictions. The jury returned a unanimous verdict of death, and the Glenn County Superior Court sentenced Allen on November 22, 1982.
In 1987, the California Supreme Court affirmed Allen’s death sentence. Associate Justice Joseph Grodin’s opinion referred to Allen’s crimes as “sordid events” with an “extraordinarily massive amount” of aggravating evidence. Earlier this year, the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal denied rehearing in Allen’s case. In her opinion for the panel, Judge Wardlaw concluded:
“Evidence of Allen's guilt is overwhelming. Given the nature of his crimes, sentencing him to another life term would achieve none of the traditional purposes underlying punishment. Allen continues to pose a threat to society, indeed to those very persons who testified against him in the Fran's Market triple-murder trial here at issue, and has proven that he is beyond rehabilitation. He has shown himself more than capable of arranging murders from behind bars. If the death penalty is to serve any purpose at all, it is to prevent the very sort of murderous conduct for which Allen was convicted.”
The Attorney General’s Office prosecuted Allen due to a conflict of interest held by the Fresno County District Attorney. The Chief Deputy District Attorney for Fresno at the time (1980-81) was Stephen Carlton. Prior to joining the District Attorney’s office, Mr. Carlton was in private practice and was appointed to represent Allen in a previous murder trial; creating a conflict which required the Attorney General to prosecute the case.
The case was prosecuted by Deputy Attorneys General Ronald Prager and Ward Campbell. Prager is currently a judge on the San Diego County Superior Court, and Campbell is a Capital Case Coordinator in the Attorney General’s Office.
Although all the courts which have heard his case have denied Allen’s challenges to his conviction and sentence, he still may seek clemency from the Governor.