On Wednesday, July 17, Santa Ana Judge Cormac Carney vacated the 1995 death sentence of Ernest Jones, who had asked the court to decide whether his sentence was valid. No executions can proceed in California while the decision stands, although the decision will likely be appealed. Jones had been found guilty of the rape and murder of his girlfriend's mother.
California has 748 people on Death Row, the highest number of any state. Since 1978, more than 900 people have been sentenced to death. Thirteen have been executed, while 94 have died of other causes. About 350 have been on death row longer than 19 years.
Matt Cherry, executive director of Death Penalty Focus, said the law in California needs to be changed.
“Justice requires that we end this charade once and for all," Cherry said in a published report. "It's time to replace California's broken death penalty with life in prison without the possibility of parole. That's the best way to ensure that convicted killers remain behind bars until they die, without wasting tens of millions of tax dollars every year on needless appeals.”
The state placed a moratorium on death sentences in 2006.
The state attorney general's office is said to be reviewing Carney's decision.