Clarence Ray Allen
|Clarence Ray Allen|
January 16, 1930|
Blair, Oklahoma, United States
|Died||January 17, 2006
San Quentin State Prison, California, United States
|Criminal penalty||Life imprisonment
Execution by lethal injection
|Criminal status||Executed on Jan. 17, 2006|
|Conviction(s)||Burglary, Murder – 1978
Murder (3 counts) – 1980
Clarence Ray Allen (January 16, 1930 – January 17, 2006) was an American murderer who was executed by lethal injection at San Quentin State Prison in California for the murders of three people. At age 76 in 2006, he became the second-oldest inmate to be executed in the United States since 1976, after John B. Nixon, who was executed in Mississippi in December 2005 at age 77.
Pro-death penalty activists cite Allen's actions as a reason to support capital punishment in the United States. He was already serving a life sentence for one murder when he was convicted of organizing the killing of three more people.
While in prison, Allen claimed Choctaw heritage. He also claimed to be deaf, blind and severely disabled, requiring a wheelchair for mobility. He did not know any sign language to communicate with hearing people. During his execution, he was able to walk from his wheelchair to the death podium unassisted. In addition, he appeared to be looking straight at his family prior to receiving the first dose of drugs during his lethal injection procedure. Allen had a confirmed advanced case of type 2 diabetes, and he suffered a perhaps related heart attack on September 2, 2005. His lawyers declared that "he presents absolutely no danger at this point, as incapacitated as he is. There's no legitimate state purpose served by executing him. It would be gratuitous punishment." They argued that his execution would constitute cruel and unusual punishment and requested that he be granted clemency by California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, which was subsequently refused.
Murder of Mary Sue Kitts
In 1974, Allen plotted the burglary of Fran’s Market, a Fresno area supermarket, owned by Ray and Fran Schletewitz, whom Allen had known for years. The plot involved Roger Allen, Clarence Ray Allen’s son, Carl Mayfield, Ed Savala and Charles Jones. Mayfield and Jones worked for Clarence Ray Allen in his security guard business as well as part of a burglary enterprise allegedly operated by Allen. As part of the burglary plot against Fran’s Market, he arranged for someone to steal a set of door and alarm keys from the market owner's son, Bryon Schletewitz, age 19, while Schletewitz was swimming in Allen's pool. Allen then arranged a date between Schletewitz and Mary Sue Kitts (his son Roger’s girlfriend) for the evening, during which time the burglary took place. The burglary netted $500 in cash and $10,000 in money orders from the store's safe. Following the commission of the burglary, Kitts told Bryon Schletewitz that Allen had committed the crime, which she knew as she had helped Allen cash money orders that had been stolen from the store.
Schletewitz confronted Roger Allen, informing him that he had been told of the crime by Kitts, and Roger Allen admitted the crime. When Roger Allen told his father Clarence of Bryon’s accusation, Clarence Allen stated that they (Schletewitz and Kitts) would have to be “dealt with.” He enlisted three employees of his security firm, Charles Jones, Carl Mayfield, and Lee Furrow. According to an opinion filed on May 6, 2004 in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals:
- Allen called a meeting at his house and told Jones, Mayfield, and Furrow that Kitts had been talking too much and should be killed. Allen called for a vote on the issue of Kitts’s execution. The vote was unanimous because those present feared what would happen if they did not go along with Allen's plan. Allen had previously told his criminal accomplices that he would kill snitches and that he had friends and connections to do the job for him even if he were in prison. He had also referred to himself as a Mafia hitman and stated that the “secret witness program” was useless because a good lawyer could always discover an informant's name and address. Allen kept a newspaper article about the murder of a man and woman in Nevada, and claimed he had “blown them in half” with a shotgun.
Allen then ordered the murder of Kitts by Lee Furrow. After an unsuccessful attempt to poison her with cyanide capsules, Allen called Furrow to learn if he had killed Kitts. Furrow told Allen he was in the process of strangling her and Allen replied, “do it.” After killing Kitts, Furrow threw her body into the Friant-Kern Canal. The body has never been found.
Execution at Fran's Market
While in Folsom Prison, Allen conspired with fellow inmate Billy Ray Hamilton to murder the various witnesses who had testified against him, including Bryon Schletewitz. Allen intended to obtain a new trial, where there would be no witnesses to testify to his acts.
After Hamilton was paroled from Folsom Prison, he carried out Allen’s orders. On Sept. 5, 1980, Hamilton and his girlfriend, Connie Barbo, went to Fran’s Market, east of Fresno, California. Bryon Schletewitz, the son of the market’s owner, worked at the market. There, Hamilton murdered Schletewitz and fellow employees Josephine Rocha, 17, and Douglas White, 18, with a sawed-off shotgun and wounded two other people, Joe Rios and Jack Abbott. Hamilton shot Schletewitz at near point-blank range in the forehead and then killed Rocha and White after forcing them to lie on the floor of the store. Rios, also an employee of the market, was shot as well but raised his arm as Hamilton fired on him and this action undoubtedly saved his life. The other wounded survivor, Abbott, was a neighbor who heard the shotgun blasts, came to the market to investigate, and was also shot by Hamilton. Abbott returned fire and wounded Hamilton, who escaped from the scene.
Five days after the events at Fran’s Market, Hamilton was arrested while attempting to rob a liquor store. On his person was found a “hit list” with the names and addresses of the witnesses who testified against Allen at the Kitts trial, including the name of Schletewitz.
In 1980, the California Attorney General filed charges against Allen and prosecuted the trial in Glenn County, California, 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 ten 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, 1980.
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. In a dissenting opinion, California Supreme Court Justice Broussard stated that the prosecutor influenced the jury by telling them that "if you conclude that aggravating evidence outweighs the mitigating evidence, you shall return a death sentence," while the law does not mandate a death sentence in such a situation. According to Justice Broussard, this led to a lack of freedom for the jury to make a "normative decision."
In 2005, the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals found that Allen’s trial counsel had been inadequate, and the evidence against him was largely the testimony of Allen’s several accomplices, who painted him as the mastermind who forced them by threats and scare tactics to commit robberies and murders. However the court denied rehearing in Allen’s case. In her opinion for the panel, Judge Kim McLane 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.
Deputy California Attorney General Ward Campbell stated in an interview:
- Well, Mr. Allen has cited his age, the length of time on death row, claims about innocence, errors at his trial. We found and told the governor we found all those reasons to be unpersuasive given the nature of his crime, which was in fact a direct attack on the criminal justice system perpetrated by a man whom Society thought to be safe from. They thought they were safe from him because he was behind bars and yet he continued to perpetrate these types of crimes and none of the factors that they cite now overshadow or outbalance those reasons for now executing the judgment of the people of the State of California.
On January 13, 2006, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger refused to grant Allen clemency, stating that "his conduct did not result from youth or inexperience, but instead resulted from the hardened and calculating decisions of a mature man." Schwarzenegger also cited a poem in which Allen glorified his actions, where Allen wrote, "We rob and steal and for those who squeal are usually found dying or dead."
On January 15, 2006, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals denied Allen's claim that executing an aged or infirm person was cruel and unusual punishment, observing that his mental acuity was unimpaired and that he had been fifty years of age when he arranged the murders from prison. Judge Kim Wardlaw writing for the panel of judges Susan Graber, Richard Clifton, and herself:
- His age and experience only sharpened his ability to coldly calculate the execution of the crime. Nothing about his current ailments reduces his culpability and thus they do not lessen the retributive or deterrent purposes of the death penalty.
The United States Supreme Court declined to hear the case, albeit over the dissent of Justice Stephen Breyer, who stated: "I believe that in the circumstances he raises a significant question as to whether his execution would constitute 'cruel and unusual punishment.'"
|Wikinews has related news: Clarence Ray Allen is executed|
Allen was executed by lethal injection on January 17, 2006, at California's San Quentin State Prison. He became the second-oldest inmate to be executed in the United States since 1976 (John B. Nixon of Mississippi was executed in 2005 at age 77). Allen was assisted in the death chamber by four correctional officers, though a media observer stated that he was clearly moving under his own power. To the surprise of everyone present, the warden indicated that he needed an additional injection of the lethal potassium in order to stop his surprisingly healthy heart. Allen wrote in his final statement, which was read immediately following the execution, "My last words will be 'It's a good day to die. Thank you very much. I love you all. Goodbye.'"
Allen died with an eagle feather on his chest. He was wearing a medicine bag around his neck, and a beaded headband. He was visited shortly before the execution by two Native American spiritual advisers.
Allen died at 12:38 a.m. Approximately 250 death penalty opponents gathered for a candlelight vigil outside the walls of San Quentin. His last meal consisted of Buffalo steak and frybread (both are traditional Native American dishes) as well as a bucket of KFC white-meat-only chicken, sugar-free pecan pie, sugar-free walnut ice cream, and whole milk. The ice-cream was left out to thaw for one hour, which Allen turned into a milkshake by hand.
Prison guards familiar with Clarence Ray Allen stated that he often walked without assistance and was also able to read his mail.
- Capital punishment debate
- Capital punishment in California
- Capital punishment in the United States
- John David Duty
- Jim Doyle (January 12, 2006). "Double life of a Death Row killer". The San Francisco Chronicle.
- Unsigned (May 6, 2004). "ALLEN v. WOODFORD: Clarence Ray ALLEN, Petitioner-Appellant, v. Jeanne S. WOODFORD, Warden, of the California State Prison at San Quentin, Respondent-Appellee. No. 01-99011.". FindLaw.
- Bill McEwen, Tim Eberly and John Ellis (January 17, 2006). [dead link] "Fresno killer Allen put to death; U.S. Supreme Court refuses to intervene in 1980 triple murder". The Fresno Bee.
- San Francisco Chronicle After Williams, a new dilemma for governor Next: Gravely ill and blind man, 75, scheduled to die Jim Doyle December 14, 2005
- Office of the Governor Press release: Governor Schwarzenegger Denies Clemency to Convicted Murderer Clarence Ray Allen January 13, 2006
- FindLaw ALLEN v. WOODFORD - Clarence Ray ALLEN, Petitioner-Appellant, v. Jeanne S. WOODFORD, Warden, of the California State Prison at San Quentin, Respondent-Appellee. January 24, 2005
- The People v. Clarence Ray Allen (42 C3d 1222) – California Supreme Court (Dec. 31, 1986)
- Clarence Allen at The Malefactor's Register
- Clarence Ray Allen at the Clark County, Indiana Prosecutor's Office
|Executions conducted and scheduled in California||Succeeded by
Albert Greenwood Brown