A blog produced by the Oregon Justice Resource Center discussing the death penalty (capital punishment) in Oregon and in the Ninth Circuit.
A mentally ill inmate on California’s death row who has been trying to overturn his conviction has died of natural causes, 23 years after his conviction, state authorities said.
Dennis Lawley, 69, was found unresponsive in his single cell at San Quentin State Prison and pronounced dead at 4:20 p.m. Sunday, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation said.
Lawley’s case sparked headlines in 2008 when a search of a Modesto field uncovered a handgun that corroborated potentially exonerating evidence.
“California has executed an innocent man on the 23-year layaway plan,” Lawley’s attorney, Scott F. Kauffman, said Tuesday after learning of his client’s death.
Even though he was diagnosed as a delusional paranoid schizophrenic, Lawley was permitted to represent himself at trial. He told jurors that he was framed for the murder because he aspired to “go down in history” as the “Beast of [the Book of] Revelations.”
Since California reinstated the death penalty in 1978, the state has executed 13 inmates. Another 56 have died of natural causes, 19 have committed suicide and six others have died of other causes, primarily killings by other inmates. There are 722 offenders left on California’s death row. Read more here.