Here are the 13 men executed by California since 1978
In his ruling that California's death penalty violates the U.S. Constitution's ban on cruel and unusual punishment, U.S. District Judge Cormac J. Carney noted that more than 850 people have been sentenced to death in California since 1978, when the state reinstated capital punishment, but only 13 have been executed.
Here's a look at those men and the crimes for which they were put to death:
Robert Alton Harris
Executed Aug. 4, 1992 | 13 years, one month on death row
Robert Alton Harris, and his brother abducted two teenage boys from a fast-food restaurant in San Diego in 1978. Harris shot John Mayeski and Michael Baker, both 16, in the head, killing them. He then stole their car. His brother, Daniel Marcus Harris, served six years in prison for his part in the murders.
Harris was executed in the gas chamber at San Quentin State Prison — the first execution in California in 25 years.
Last meal: Harris requested and was given two large pizzas, a bucket of fried chicken and ice cream.
Last words: According to Warden Daniel Vasquez, Harris’ said: “You can be a king or a street sweeper, but everyone dances with the grim reaper.”
David Edwin Mason
Executed Aug. 24, 1993 | 9 years, seven months on death row
David Edwin Mason beat, strangled and robbed four elderly victims within a nine-month period. While being held in Alameda County Jail awaiting trial, Mason killed his cellmate. Mason also was wanted in Butte County for shooting and killing his male lover while the victim was sleeping.
Mason was executed in the gas chamber at San Quentin State Prison. He was the first condemned inmate to voluntarily waive his appeals on a federal level. According to the prison warden, Mason said: “No warden, I want to proceed. Thank you, warden.”
Last meal: Mason refused any last meal, requesting only ice water while in the death watch cell.
Last words: Mason told the warden that he had no final words to impart.
William George Bonin
Executed Feb. 23, 1996 | 13 years, one month on death row
William George Bonin, known as the Freeway Killer, kidnapped, robbed, raped and murdered a total of 14 teenage boys between 1979 and 1980.
Bonin was executed at San Quentin State Prison. Bonin was the first California inmate to be executed by lethal injection.
Last meal: Bonin requested two large pepperoni and sausage pizzas, three pints of coffee ice cream and three six-packs of regular Coca-Cola.
Last words: He gave the following last words to Warden Art Calderon: “That I feel the death penalty is not an answer to the problems at hand. That I feel it sends the wrong message to the youth of the country. Young people act as they see other people acting instead of as people tell them to act. And I would suggest that when a person has a thought of doing anything serious against the law, that before they did, that they should go to a quiet place and think about it seriously.”
Keith Daniel Williams
Executed May, 3, 1996 | 17 years on death row
Keith Daniel Williams killed two men and a pregnant woman he hardly knew in a bizarre attempt to steal back a bad check he had written to one of his victims. The bodies of Miguel and Salvador Vargas were found lying face-down on the floor of their rural Merced residence on Oct. 9, 1978. Five days later, Lourdes Meza’s body was discovered in a field some distance from the residence.
Last meal: Williams’ last meal included fried pork chops, a baked potato with real butter, asparagus, salad with bleu cheese dressing, apple pie and whole milk.
Last words: Williams had no last words.
Thomas M. Thompson
Executed July 14, 1998 | 14 years, one month on death row
Thomas Martin Thompson was convicted of forcible rape and first-degree murder with the special circumstance of murder during the commission of rape for the 1981 murder of Ginger Fleischli, 20, in Laguna Beach.
Last meal: Thompson’s last meal included Alaskan king crab with melted butter, spinach salad, pork fried rice, Mandarin-style spare ribs, a hot fudge sundae and a six-pack of Coca-Cola.
Last words: After the execution, Warden Art Calderon read Thompson’s last statement: “For 17 years the AG has been pursuing the wrong man. In time he will come to know this. I don’t want anyone to avenge my death. Instead I want you to stop killing people. God bless.”
Executed Feb. 9, 1999 | 15 years, nine months on death row
Jaturun Siripongs, a former Buddhist monk, was convicted of robbery, burglary and two counts of first-degree murder in the Dec. 15, 1981, deaths of Packovan “Pat” Wattanaporn and Quach Nguyen. The bodies of the men were found lying face-down in a puddle of blood in the storage room of the Garden Grove market where they worked.
Last meal: No information is available.
Last words: No information is available.
Executed May 4, 1999 | 16 years, 10 months on death row
Manuel Pina Babbitt broke into the south Sacramento apartment of Leah Schendel, 78, and beat her to death. Babbitt also attempted to rape Schendel before ransacking and robbing her residence. A decorated Vietnam veteran, Babbitt claimed he did not remember the attack because it took place during a post-traumatic stress flashback.
Last meal: Babbitt declined a last meal and fasted until his execution.
Last words: “I forgive all of you.”
Darrell Keith Rich
Executed March 15, 2000 | 19 years, one month on death row
Darrell Keith Rich attacked nine women during a two-month rampage in the summer of 1978, raping eight of them and killing four.
The youngest of his victims was Annette Selix, 11, whom he threw off a 105-foot-high bridge near Shasta Lake. He beat Annette Edwards, 19, and Pam Moore, 17, to death with rocks.
Rich also shot Linda Slavik, a 28-year-old mother, twice in the head and later bragged to friends that in her final moments, she had pleaded, “Don’t do it, don’t do it.”
Last meal: Rich declined a last meal and drank tea, broth and Gatorade until his execution.
Last word: “Peace.”
Robert Lee Massie
Executed March 27, 2001 | 21 years, 10 months on death row
Robert Lee Massie was convicted of one count of first-degree murder in the Jan. 3, 1979, death of Boris G. Naumoff. Massie shot and killed Naumoff during a liquor store robbery.
At the time of Naumoff’s murder, Massie was on parole for the 1965 murder of Mildred Weiss. He had initially been sentenced to death for Weiss’ killing, but a stay of execution by then-Gov. Ronald Reagan in the late 1960s, as well as the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to halt the death penalty in 1972, spared his life.
Last meal: Two vanilla milkshakes, extra crispy French fries, extra crispy fried oysters and soft drinks.
Last words: “Forgiveness. Giving up all hope for a better past.”
Stephen Wayne Anderson
Executed Jan. 29, 2002 | 20 years, six months on death row
Stephen Wayne Anderson, described by authorities as a drifter, shot and killed an 81-year-old grandmother, Elizabeth Lyman, in 1980 while trying to burglarize her San Bernardino County home.
Last meal: Two grilled cheese sandwiches, one pint of cottage cheese, hominy/corn mixture, one piece of peach pie, one pint of chocolate chip ice cream and radishes.
Last words: When asked by the warden if he had any last words, Anderson was very adamant that he did not.
Executed Jan. 19, 2005 | 20 years, 10 months on death row
Donald Beardslee brutally murdered two young women, Patty Geddling and Stacie Benjamin, on April 25, 1981, in an apparent drug-related crime. At the time of the murders, Beardslee was on parole for murder in Missouri.
Last meal: No information is available.
Last words: Beardslee had no last words.
Related: Death row often means a long life
Executed Dec. 13, 2005 | 24 years, eight months on death row
Stanley “Tookie” Williams, who helped launch the Crips street gang, was found guilty in 1981 of four counts of first-degree murder with special circumstances.
On Feb. 27, 1979, he and three cohorts smoked cigarettes laced with PCP and, armed with a 12-gauge shotgun and a .22-caliber handgun, set out on a late-night search for a place to rob, according to court documents.
They wound up at the 7-Eleven where Albert Owens, a father of two and a Army veteran, was working the overnight shift. Owens was shot twice in the back.
Less than two weeks later, Williams broke down the door at the Brookhaven Motel and killed the motel’s owners, Taiwanese immigrants Yen-I Yang, his wife, Tsai-Shai Chen Yang, and their daughter, Yu Chin Yang Lin, who was visiting.
The two robberies netted $220.
Williams became an anti-violence advocate from behind bars and was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize. He insisted he was innocent of the murders.
Last meal: Williams did not request a last meal, but he did drink milk in the hours before his execution.
Last words: Williams made no final statement.
Related: Tookie Williams is executed
Clarence Ray Allen
Executed Jan. 17, 2006 | 23 years, one month on death row
Clarence Ray Allen was convicted of organizing the murders of Bryon Schletewitz, 27; Douglas White, 18; and Josephine Rocha, 17. Prosecutors told a jury in Fresno that Allen paid a fellow inmate, Billy Ray Hamilton, to carry out the killings.
At the time of the killings, Allen was in prison, convicted of the 1974 murder of Mary Sue Kitts. California did not have a death penalty statute at that time. Kitts, a girlfriend of Allen’s son, Kenneth, was found strangled after telling the owners of a Fresno market that Allen’s gang had burglarized their business. Schletewitz was the son of the store owners and had testified against Allen in the Kitts case. Allen was found guilty of three counts of first-degree murder with special circumstances and one count of conspiracy.
Last meal: Buffalo steak, Kentucky Fried Chicken (all white meat), fried bread, pecan pie (sugar free); black walnut ice cream (sugar free), and whole milk.
Last words: Allen issued the following statement: “First of all I’d like to say how good the last meal was, how much I enjoyed it and how much I love my family and friends who have stood by me all these years. I’d also like to thank my friends from Europe who have written to me and my spiritual advisor Richard Williams, one lady, Henny Ripp from Holland, and another lady from Italy, Christine Kaufmann, who I gave an Indian name of Morning Sun, and she’s been that to me, and all of the inmates on death row that I’m leaving behind that they will be joining me one day.
“One good friend I’ve got that I hate to leave behind who’s been my neighbor for 20 years is Ward Weaver. And all of my family that was here to visit me during this period, I love you very much for being with me during this time.
“My last words will be, ‘Hoka Hey, it’s a good day to die.’ Thank you very much. I love you all. Goodbye.”