Afternoon Newsletter

Execution ban spares some inmates who’ve been on California’s death row up to 40 years

Governor explains his personal and passionate view behind halting death penalty

Gov. Gavin Newsom put a moratorium on the death penalty in California on March 13, 2019, sparing the lives of more than 700 death-row inmates.
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Gov. Gavin Newsom put a moratorium on the death penalty in California on March 13, 2019, sparing the lives of more than 700 death-row inmates.

When Douglas Stankewitz arrived on California’s death row in October 1978, Jimmy Carter would still be president for two more years.

Stankewitz, 60, has been awaiting execution for 40 years. And he’s not alone — several other death row inhabitants have been at San Quentin State Prison for nearly as long.

They’re just some of the more than 700 people sentenced to die in California who’ve had their death sentences put on hold by an executive order from Gov. Gavin Newsom.

At age 88, David Carpenter is the oldest current inmate on California’s death row, but he didn’t arrive until 1984 at age 50. He was convicted in the Bay Area’s “Trailside Killer” cases.

Here are the five inmates who’ve spent the longest time on death row. All of their cases have undergone numerous appeals, reversals and retrials.

Douglas Stankewitz

Sentenced to die by a Fresno County court in October 1978, Stankewitz arrived on death row a few days later at age 19. He was convicted in the 1978 killing of Theresa Graybeal, 22, after he kidnapped and robbed her, The Fresno Bee reported.

Earl Jackson

Earl Jackson, now 61, arrived on death row in March 1979 at age 21 and has spent 39 years awaiting execution.

He was convicted by a Los Angeles County court of the 1977 beating deaths of two elderly Long Beach women, one of whom he also raped with a wine bottle, the Los Angeles Times reported.

David Ghent

Now 69, David Ghent arrived on death row in October 1979 at age 29. He’s spent 39 years there after being sentenced to die by a Santa Clara County court in the 1979 killing of Patricia Bert, 25, inside her San Jose apartment, reported The Mercury News.

Richard Montiel

Richard Montiel, now 70, arrived on death row in November 1979 at age 30, and has spent 39 years awaiting execution. A Kern County court convicted him of slashing a 78-year-old man’s throat during a robbery in 1979, The Bakersfield Californian reported.

James Anderson

Now 66, James Anderson arrived on death row in December 1979 at age 26 after being sentenced to die by a Riverside County court. Anderson has spent 39 years on death row in the 1979 kidnapping, robbery and slayings of two women whose car had been stranded on the freeway, the Los Angeles Times reported.

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Don Sweeney has been a newspaper reporter and editor in California for more than 25 years. He has been a real-time reporter based at The Sacramento Bee since 2016.

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