Gavin Newsom discusses Prop. 62 (death penalty) with Bee Editorial Board
It’s been 13 years since California last executed an inmate on death row.
Now, Clarence Ray Allen — killed at 12:20 a.m. on Jan. 17, 2006, at the age of 76 — could be the last person to be executed in the Golden State. Gov. Gavin Newsom announced that he would place a moratorium on executions during his administration.
Newsom’s moratorium withdraws California from its lethal injection protocol, closes the execution chamber in San Quentin State Prison and issues a reprieve, though not a pardon, for all 737 inmates currently on death row.
Allen spent more than 22 years on death row before dying from a lethal injection, according to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
A judge sentenced Allen to die after he was convicted on three counts of first degree murder with special circumstances and one count of conspiracy for the deaths of Bryon William Schletewitz, Douglas Scott White and Josephine Linda Rocha.
Allen sentenced in 1978 to life in prison for the 1974 murder of Mary Sue Kitts, an accomplice in a burglary of Fran’s Market in Fresno. While in prison, he arranged for Billy Ray Hamilton, whom he met there, to kill Schletewitz and others “who had informed on him and gotten him prison time.”
On Sept. 4, 1980, Hamilton went to Fran’s Market as it was closing and killed Schletewitz, 27. Hamilton also killed White, 18, and Rocha, 17, who both were working in the store at the time.
Hamilton received a death sentence for the murders but died in 2007 of natural causes while his case was still on appeal.
The Death Penalty Information Center, a nonprofit organization that tracks capital punishments nationwide, reports that in 2006, at the time of his execution, Allen was legally blind, diabetic and used a wheelchair.
Allen holds the distinction of being the oldest person ever put to death in California, according to The Intercept.
Allen’s last meal included buffalo steak, Kentucky Fried Chicken, fried bread, sugar-free pecan pie and black walnut ice cream and whole milk.
“My last words will be, ‘Hoka Hey, it’s a good day to die.’ Thank you very much. I love you all. Goodbye,” he said in his final statement.
A previous version of this article misstated the circumstances of Douglas White and Josephine Rocha’s deaths. The story has been updated to accurately reflect those circumstances.