Death Penalty Appeal Denied in Tech Company Killings

Man who killed 7 stalked victim for years

The California Supreme Court today denied a death penalty appeal in the case of Richard Wade Farley, the man convicted of the 1988 murders of seven employees of a Sunnyvale computer company where he had formerly worked and where he had stalked a female coworker.

The court issued the unanimous ruling this morning from its headquarters in San Francisco.

Farley, now 60, was convicted in Santa Clara County in 1991 of seven counts of first-degree murder for the Feb. 16, 1988, fatal shootings of seven former coworkers at Electromagnetic Systems Laboratory. Four other employees, including Laura Black, a woman he had been stalking for years, were injured in the shootings.

The case helped prompt the passage of an anti-stalking law in California, the first such law in the country.

Farley was sentenced to death after the conviction, and remains on death row at San Quentin.

According to prosecutors, Farley became obsessed with Black in 1984, stalking and harassing her, sending her hundreds of letters and even secretly obtaining a key to her home, despite her repeated refusal to go out with him. When the company tried to stop the harassment, Farley threatened  violence against other employees. He was fired in 1986 but continued to  pursue Black.

Black obtained a temporary restraining order against Farley in 1988, but on the day before a court hearing to make the order permanent, he arrived at ESL with shotguns, a rifle with a scope, revolvers, pistols, a smoke bomb, a foot-long buck knife, and more than 1,000 rounds of ammunition.

Farley shot and killed one employee in the parking lot, and murdered six more and wounded four others inside the building, including  Black.

He surrendered to police hours later, after officers promised to  give him a sandwich and a soda.

From jail in March 1988, Farley wrote to Black, "When I go to the gas chamber, I'll smile for the cameras and you'll know that you'll have won in the end," according to a court transcript.

The transcript also noted a March 1989 letter from Farley to a friend that said, "I'm glad Laura's ok...I hope she understands if I'd really wanted to hurt her -- she wouldn't be here today."

Farley's attorney Ezra Hendon said this morning that Farley could still petition the California Supreme Court to reconsider its decision, or ask the U.S. Supreme Court to review the case.

Hendon said he is still reviewing the ruling and has not made any  decision on further action.

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