Excruciatingly Slow First Step for Killer

It's been 13 years since a Santa Clara County jury sentenced Richard Allen Davis to death for kidnapping and killing Polly Klaas, but believe it or not his appeal process has not moved even one step closer to San Quentin's death chamber.

That first and guaranteed step will happen in San Francisco next Tuesday.  That's when the California Supreme Court will hear what is sure to be the first of many appeals.

When the wire crossed in the newsroom, long timers were livid.  How could it be that one of the most notorious killers of one of the most beloved children in Bay Area history is no closer to the the jury's chosen justice as the day he was sentenced?  The wire had to be incorrect.  Sadly, it was not.

Polly would be 28 years old if it were not for one Richard Allen Davis

Even though most Californians are aware the appeals process moves at a snails pace, the fact that it took 13 years for the first and automatic first step comes as a shock to many.

Davis, 54, a former sheet metal worker with a long criminal  record, was convicted in Santa Clara County Superior Court in 1996 of  kidnapping the girl from a slumber party at her mother's home in Petaluma on  Oct. 1, 1993, and murdering her by strangling her.

Her body was found near U.S. Highway 101 in the Cloverdale area two months later after Davis, who had been arrested for a  parole violation, gave investigators information about the location.

The trial was moved from Sonoma County to Santa Clara County  because of extensive publicity about the case.

When he was convicted, Davis turned to the camera in the courtroom and put up his middle finger. 

During his sentencing he read a statement that ended with a claim that infuriated Polly's father Mark Klaas so much he had to be restrained from lunging at his daughter's killer.

Even if the state high court upholds his conviction, Davis can continue appeals through Haber'srpus petitions in the state and federal court systems.
The court's seven justices will spend an hour hearing arguments on  the appeal and then will have three months to issue a written ruling.

All death penalty cases in California are automatically appealed  directly to the state Supreme Court.  The fact that the word "directly" means 13 years is shocking to say the least.

The direct appeal is the first step in a lengthy appeal process.  If the state high court upholds his conviction, Davis can continue appeals  through habeas corpus petitions in the state and federal court systems.

Davis' case led to California's voter-approved "three strikes" law, which provides lengthy sentences for repeat offenders.

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