Monday, December 10, 2012

This is of course the time of year that fire safety experts typically warn about the dangers of Christmas tree fires in the home or business. Most folks do not realize how fast a dry Christmas tree can get out of control when catching fire. The following video is in real-time that shows two trees, one well watered and one that is dry:

According to Marty Aherns with the National Fire Protection Association, between 2005 and 2009, U.S. fire departments responded to an average of 240 Christmas tree fires per year resulting in an average of 13 deaths, 27 injuries and $16.7 million dollars in property damage. 1 out of every 18 Christmas tree fires resulted in one or more deaths.

So what can you do? First, keep your tree well watered. A tree measuring 6 feet or higher can soak up to one gallon or more per day. Second, keep your tree at least 3 feet away from all heat sources including heater registers in the floor or ceiling. Third, check you lights for any damage and always make sure they are UL approved. Fourth, remove the tree as soon as possible after the holidays, particularly if you put up your tree during the Thanksgiving holiday. Last, never place a tree so as to block egress from the home or business.

As you can see from the videos, Christmas tree fires, although rare, are usually very serious and can quickly get out of control and trap you inside the home. This would be a good time to familiarize yourself and family members with your fire escape plan and conduct your Bi-Annual fire drill.

From Crosshair Fire Investigations and Safety Consultants, we wish you a safe holiday season and a happy new year.

Friday, November 16, 2012


Smoke alarms when maintained in proper working order save lives without question.  Yet still today, people are dying in residential home fires.  People need to understand that with today's common combustibles that burn faster and hotter than in years past, time to escape a fire in your home is dwindling by the second.  I believe this is evidenced by the fact that four percent of the total deaths last year or 114 fatalities occurred in just 23 of the 386,000 total residential fires in 2011.

THE FACTS:  In 2011, FIREFIGHTERS IN THE UNITED STATES responded to approximately 1,389,500 fires, of which 386,000 were residential.  These fires were responsible for 3,005 deaths throughout the country, 2,550 of them in single and multiple family dwellings.

CATASTROPHIC MULTIPLE-DEATH FIRES: defined by the NFPA as: 1. fires or explosions in homes or apartments that result in five or more fire-related deaths, or  2. fires or explosions in all other structures, as well as outside of structures, such as wildfires and vehicle fires, that claim three or more lives.

In 2011, 23 fires were confirmed as catastrophic multiple-death fires resulting in 114 deaths, including 16 children under the age of six years old.  Over half of these fires occurred in single-family homes, one being a manufactured home (aka mobile home) and the other a duplex.  Three catastrophic incidents occurred in apartment buildings, seven fewer than in 2010.  

The largest-loss-of-life occurred when seven people, including three under the age of six, perished after the families 2 1/2 story unprotected wood-frame farmhouse was destroyed by fire.  Fire department investigators told a tragic story of how the mother was in the barn attending to their milking cows; the father had already left the house to make his milk deliveries for the morning when the fire occurred.  Their eight children were alone in the house, two of the children ages two and three downstairs watching television when the fire broke out.  The three year old ran to the barn to alert the mother to the fire who then ran to a neighbor and told her to call 911.  The three year old was the only child to survive the tragedy.

During the course of the year, another five fires killed six people each, including two children under the age of six.  In the first incident, fire was determined to have occurred in the master bedroom of a double-wide manufactured home.  All the victims were found in various locations throughout the home and investigators believe that at least four of the children attempted to escape since they had been discovered by doors and windows.    The cause of the fire is listed as "Undetermined" noting that smoke detectors had been installed but investigators were unable to determine if they were operational. 

The second fire involved a murder-suicide were the perpetrator intentionally set the living and dining area on fire after killing all five family members and then killing himself.  All the victims were discovered in the area of origin.  Not that it mattered in this particular incident, but to stay on point, the home was noted not to have smoke detectors present. 

The third fire tragedy trapped six victims in two apartments above the apartment of origin in a 10-unit two-story structure.  Apparently someone in the first story apartment of origin fled leaving the door to the unit open, consequently allowing the fire to spread via an open stairwell, cutting off any escape hopes to the residents above.  The building's smoke alarms did operate.

The fourth fire was equally tragic when firefighters found four children and two adults dead in a single-family house fire with no smoke detectors which would surly have saved their lives if  one had been installed.  Investigators determined that the fire started when a charcoal grill was left unattended on a wooden porch in the rear, spreading up the buildings vinyl siding, into the eaves, and then eventually into the upstairs bedrooms from the attic above. 

The last of the five fires occurred when a leaking valve on a propane tank found an ignition source, the water heater in the basement, causing an explosion and fire that killed all six family members.  Again, in this case it would not have made a difference, but the home was found not to have smoke detectors.

NFPA statistics cite six more catastrophic multiple-death fires each killing five people in the process.  A total of six children under the age of six years old died, one of the fires killing three of them alone.  Three of the fires occurred in single-family homes, one in a duplex, and two in apartments, each consisting of 10-units or less.  Regarding smoke detectors, three incidents had no smoke alarms, two had them but were missing the batteries, and one they couldn't determine if it operated due to damage.  The sixth fire did not report on the condition or lack thereof  of smoke detectors in the building.


As I'm writing this post, although not classified as a catastrophic multiple-death incidents, they are tragic nonetheless, and further drive the point home that we are still dying in fires needlessly.

Lake City, Iowa-  As reported by Des Moines Register on 11/13/2012 at approximately 1:40 in the morning, the Lake City Fire Department responded to a house fire south of the downtown district in which four family members died.  When firefighters arrived, the home was fully involved and determined too dangerous to attempt a rescue of the victims inside. When the smoke cleared, the bodies of Wyatt Pierson, age 3, and Madison Pierson, age 8, were discovered on the first floor.  The older sister, Tyra Pierson, age 22, died attempting to escape the fire with her 10-month old son Xavier Pierson.  The fire is still under investigation and investigators have yet to determine if smoke detectors were present and/or working.

Beavercreek, Ohio-  Beavercreek Fire Department is investigating the scene of fatal fire that killed two people in their Wendover Drive home at approximately 4 a.m.  According to neighbors that called 911, the entire front of the home was engulfed in flames before firefighters arrived.  Apparently firefighters were able to rescue a male victim from the home, but he died in a local hospital of smoke inhalation shortly after.  A female victim was found inside the 1500 square foot three bedroom home that sustained heavy fire and smoke damage.  First arriving companies told investigators they did not hear smoke alarms upon arrival and it was later confirmed there were no working smoke detectors inside the home.


Friday, November 2, 2012


Boardwalk Roller Coaster Out to Sea
The Department of Justice (DOJ), the FBI, and the National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) want the public to be aware that during major disasters like Hurricane Sandy, the potential for disaster fraud peeks to it's highest levels. 

What is disaster fraud?  Disaster fraud is any fraudulent activity associated with relief efforts for such natural disasters like Hurricane Sandy for example.

Any suspected fraudulent activity pertaining to the relief efforts of Hurricane Sandy should be reported to the toll-free NCDF hotline at 866-720-5721.  You can reach the hotline 24 hours a day, seven days a week for the specific purpose of reporting scams in the aftermath of Sandy or any other natural disaster. 

So many of us want to help our fellow Americans on the east coast that are suffering so badly after the tragedy of Sandy and for most of us, that means donating money to organizations like the Red Cross, Salvation Army, and others.  Unfortunately, tragedies like this also bring out the scam artists looking to make easy money from unsuspecting good citizens like yourself.

The DOJ and the FBI want to remind us all to stay alert and make sure that we scrutinize anyone soliciting donations on behalf of hurricane victims.  Solicitations can come in the form of emails, websites, door-to-door collections, mailings, telephone calls, etc.  For those families that have elderly parents, be sure to speak with them about disaster fraud, particularly during these times and remember, the elderly are the most susceptible members of our society when it comes to fraud.

Before making any kind of donation, be sure to adhere to the following guidelines:

  • Do not respond to any unsolicited (spam) incoming emails, including clicking links contained within those messages because they may contain a computer virus.
  • Be cautious of individuals representing themselves as victims or officials asking for donations via email or social networking sites.
  • Beware of organizations with copycat names similar to but not exactly the same as those of reputable charities.
  • Rather than following a purported link to a website, verify the existence and legitimacy of non-profit organizations by using Internet-based resources.
  • Be cautious of emails that claim to show pictures of the disaster areas in attached files; these files may contain viruses.  Only open attachments from known senders.
  • To ensure that contributions are received and used for the purpose intended, make donations directly to known organizations rather than relying on others to make those donations for you on your behalf.
  • Do not be pressured into making contributions, reputable charities do not use coercive tactics.
  • Do not give your personal or financial information to anyone who solicits contributions.  Providing such information may compromise your identity and make you vulnerable to identify theft.
  • Avoid cash donations if possible.  Use Paypal or a credit card to make donations.  If you write a check, make sure it is directly to the charity and not to individuals.
  • Legitimate charities do not normally solicit donations via money transfer services.
  • Most legitimate charities maintain websites ending in .org rather than .com.

In addition to raising public awareness, the NCDF wants you to know that they are the intake center for all disaster relief fraud.  Therefore, if you do observe that someone has submitted a fraudulent claim for disaster relief, or observe any other suspected fraudulent activities pertaining to the receipt of government funds as part of disaster relief clean-up, please contact the NCDF.

Crosshair Fire Investigations would like to make a plea to everyone who can donate, please do so ASAP.  Americans are in true need, probably more than ever before post Sandy.  In addition, everyone who can give blood should also do so immediately.  Disasters like this can quickly drain Red Cross blood supplies.  If possible, host a blood drive.  See the Red Cross website for more information.


Saturday, October 27, 2012


I must admit, Halloween is my favorite time of year.  Running through the neighborhood with my cousins on Halloween night, all of us toting pillow cases full of candy without a care in the world, are probably my fondest memories as a kid. 

That "without a care in the world" attitude, special to being a child, is what concerns us in the safety business and is the impetus for writing articles this time of year warning parents about the dangers that lurk in the darkness on this night where spooks and goblins rein free. 

According to the National Safety Council and the American Academy of Pediatrics, children ages 5-14 are four times more likely to be killed while walking on Halloween night that at any time of the year.  Falls are the number one cause for injury, followed by being struck by a vehicle.

In addition to falls and pedestrian accidents, this is also the time of year to be especially vigilant for accidental fires due to the increased use of candles as Halloween decorations. 

So, for a safe Halloween filled with fun and treats, I recommend the following safety tips taken from the U.S. Fire Administration and Safe Kids Worldwide sponsored by Fed Ex.:

  • Go only to well-lit houses and remain on porches rather than entering houses.
  • Travel in small groups and be accompanied by an adult.
  • Carry a cell phone and know how to reach you and how to call 911 in an emergency, like if they get lost.
  • Have their full names and phone number attached to their costumes somewhere if they are too young to remember them.
  • Bring treats home before eating them so you can inspect them.  Although the risk that your child's candy has been tampered with is extremely low, there is also the chance that the candy is unwrapped or spoiled.
  • Use costume knives and swords that are flexible, not rigid or sharp.
  • Use flashlights, stay on sidewalks, and avoid crossing yards.
  • Cross streets at the corner, use crosswalks, and do not cross between parked cars.
  • Stop at all corners and stay together in a group before crossing.
  • Wear clothing that is bright, reflective, and flame retardant.  The label should say "Flame Resistant".
  • Consider using face paint instead of masks (Masks can obstruct a child's vision).
  • Avoid wearing hats that will slide over their eyes.
  • Avoid wearing long, baggy, or loose costumes or oversized shoes to prevent tripping accidents.
  • Be reminded to look left, right, and left again before crossing the street.
  • Tell your kids to stay away from candles and jack-o'-lanterns that may be on steps and porches.
  • Kids should never carry candles when they are trick-or-treating.  Always use a flashlight, flameless candle, or light sticks.
  • Don't use candles for decorations.
  • Use only decorative lights tested for safety by a recognized testing laboratory like UL.  Check lights for broken or cracked sockets, frayed or bare wires, or loose connections.  Throw away damaged sets.
  • Don't overload extension cords.

Sunday, October 21, 2012


RECALL SENTRY is a bi-monthly post dedicated to keeping you informed of the latest recalls on products that pose a danger to you, your family, friends and co-workers.

BANANA BOAT spray-on sunscreen products.  According to The Associated Press, Energizer Holdings, the maker of Banana Boat sunscreen products, is recalling approximately 500,000 bottles, involving 23 different varieties including products like Ultra Mist Sport, Ultramist Ultra Defense and UltraMist Kids.

A company spokesman said that within the last year, there have been reports of five people receiving serious burn injuries after using the products, four in the U.S. and one in Canada.  The problem apparently involves the spray valve which over applies the product, resulting in a longer drying time on the skin.  Since the product is flammable and as long as it is wet on the skin, the contents will continue to give off flammable vapors, therefore posing a fire risk to the user.  There are warnings on the label advising consumers to keep away from ignition sources, including smoking, while using the product. 

However, according to the article, doctors and burn experts agree that the problem does seem to be a rather rare occurrence. .  Dr. Darrel Rigel, professor of dermatology at New York University was quoted as saying, "I've been doing this for 30 years and I've never seen or heard of this happening before."  Rigel expounded by saying that many aerosol products, including hairspray and spray-on deodorants, contain flammable ingredients including alcohol.

"I think you just have to use common sense and not be near an open fire when you put on aerosol anything," said Rigel.

Dan Dillard, executive director of the Burn Prevention Network, indicated that his firm was contacted earlier in the year regarding two very serious burn injuries involving Banana Boat spray-on sunscreen products.  One injury involved a man who was standing near a barbecue grill and the other involved a woman operating welding equipment.

I must admit, I have never seen this type of injury using a spray-on sunscreen in my 31 years in the fire service.  However, I highly recommend that you sit down with your family, including the largest users of these products, children, to discuss the dangers of using these goods near a flame or any other type of ignition source.

For a complete list of the products involved, go to

The company is advising consumers who purchased the product not to use them.  You can direct your inquiries, Monday through Friday, 8am. to 7pm. eastern time, at 1-800-SAFESUN (1-800-723-3786).

SHARPER IMAGE USB wall chargers recalled by Atomi due to fire and burn hazards.  The Consumer Product Safety Commission announced on October 10, 2012, the voluntary recall of approximately 80,000 chargers that may overheat and smoke, posing a fire and burn hazard to consumers.

Atomi, maker of the USB chargers, has received 13 reports of the chargers overheating, smoking, and acrid smells coming from the unit.  No injuries have been reported.

The recall involves Sharper image USB wall chargers with model numbers TSI202 and TSI260.  The wall chargers are used to recharge electronic devices through a USB connection including MP3 players and other devices.  The chargers are black plastic and measure approximately 2 1/2" inches high by 1 1/2" inches wide.  "Sharper Image" is printed on the top of unit.  The model number is printed on the bottom of the charger.

These units were sold at the Burlington Coat Factory, Tuesday Morning, and TJ Maxx stores and on various websites from October 2011 thorough September 2012 for between $8.00 and $13.00.  All units were manufactured in China.

Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled wall chargers and contact Atomi for instructions on returning the chargers for a full refund.

Contact Atomi, at (800) 790-1440, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET Monday thru Friday or by email at

Legrand Wiremold recalls power strips due to electric shock hazard.  The Consumer Product Safety Commission announced on September 6, 2012, the voluntary recall of 14,200 Legrand Under Cabinet Power and Lighting four outlet power strips.

The electrical wires are reversed on the receptacles on the power strips, posing a risk of electrical shock.  Only one incident so far as been reported, however no one was injured in that incident.

This recall involves four-outlet under-cabinet power and lighting strips with the model numbers of PX1001.  The power strips come in a red package with "Wiremold-Series Part PX1001" printed on the front. The manufactured dates of the recalled products are presented as product codes January 2011 through June 2012, and are found imprinted on a circle on the bottom with an arrow pointing to the number of the month and year "11" or "12" in the center.  The model number PX1001, and UPC number 0 86698 00125 3, are imprinted on the bottom of the packaging.  Power strips that have a star symbol printed in black ink on the packaging and on the back cover of the power strip are not included in this recall.

These units were sold at Ace Hardware, Do it Best, Home Depot USA, Sutherlands, True Value Hardware and online at between February 2011 and August 2012 for about $40.00.  These units were manufactured in China.

Consumers should immediately unplug and stop using the power strips and return them to Legrand Wiremold for a replacement or refund. 

For additional information, you may contact Legrand Wiremold at (800) 617-1768 between 8 a.m and 5 p.m. ET Monday thru Friday, or visit the firm's website at 

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

gardencityguardian: Every 15 Minutes

gardencityguardian: Every 15 Minutes: This is the shortest post I have ever done, but what else can I say except, please show the video to your children, your loved ones, your fr...

Every 15 Minutes

This is the shortest post I have ever done, but what else can I say except, please show the video to your children, your loved ones, your friends.  Sit down and discuss this with them even if it is just for 15 minutes. 

Consumer Fireworks-Neither Safe or Sane

The Myth:  These Are Safe and Sane

The Truth:

In 2010, hospital emergency rooms in the United States reported seeing 8,600 fireworks-related injuries that were serious enough to receive treatment.  This trend of firework related injuries has been consistently in the range of anywhere from 8,300 to 9,800 since 1996 according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). 

Every two-out-of-five injuries or 39% of the total injuries for 2010 were children under the age of 15.  Among those statistics, children between the ages of 5 to 9 had the highest percentage of injuries, followed by children ages 10 to 14 with males in that age bracket suffering nearly 65% of the injuries sustained by fireworks.

The majority of the injuries, 57% percent, were of course to the extremities such hands, fingers, legs, arms, shoulders and wrists.  The rest of the injuries reported were to the head, including the eye which accounted for 21% of the total injuries. 

Half (52%) of the injuries treated were the result of burns, while one-fifth (21%) were contusions and lacerations.

It is interesting to note that in 2010, five out of every six injuries or 83% involved fireworks identified as "Safe and Sane" by the federal government.

The Reality:

The Law:

In California, the following items are permitted: ground & hand-held sparkling devices, cylindrical & cone fountains, wheel & ground spinners, illuminating torch, flitter sparkler, toy smoke devices, party poppers and snappers.

Specifically prohibited are firecrackers, skyrockets, rockets, roman candles, chasers, sparklers over 10" or 1/4" in diameter, surprise items, friction items, torpedoes, items resembling food, fireworks containing arsenic, phosphorus, thiocyanates magnesium, mercury salts, picrates or picric acid, gallates or gallic acid, chlorates, boron, titanium, zirconium, gunpowder and fireworks kits.

The selling period for Safe and Sane fireworks is from noon, June 28th through noon July 6th.

Items for sale must be of a type approved by the State Fire Marshal.  Salesperson's minimum age is 18 years.

You must be at least 16 years old to purchase Safe and Sane

From Crosshair Fire Investigations and Safety Consultants, have a safe and fun fourth of July holiday and please, don't be a doofus. 

Financial Armagaddon Headed Our Way?

Don't think a financial tsunami is not coming our way? Tonight at midnight, the Stockton City Council will be voting on a "pendency budget plan" drafted by the city manager, Bob Deis, which essentially means that the third largest city in Northern California will be declaring bankruptcy by Wednesday morning. 

For those of you not familiar with Stockton, Calfornia, the city with a population of approximately 300,000, lies some 90 miles Northeast of San Francisco and is neighbors with the State's Capitol, Sacramento.  Stockton is a port city that is supported by the unique California Delta, a sprawing waterway that winds its many fingers throughout the San Joaquin valley.  The valley, with its rich vertile soil, produces much of the western United States's population with vegetables, nuts, and fruits (with the exception of San Franciso of course). 

If the city council adopts Deis's plan, Stockton will not honor $10.2 million in debt payments to it's creditors under Chapter 9 Bankruptcy protection which is sure to come according to Gregory Lipitz, vice-president and senior analyst at Moody's Investor Services.  But Deis's plan doesn't stop there, it also calls for reducing retiree benefits by $11.2 immediately and another $7 million by reducing medical benefits for the 2012-2013 fiscal year and then discontinuing medical benefits all together by 2014.

Stockton, whose bonds are now "junk" status is at this very moment "one notch above its 'D' default rating" according to the Drudge Report.

Stockton's financial Armeggadon began with the collapse of the housing market.  Stockton, like Las Vegas, overbuilt when lenders began giving home loans under the Fed's 'Community Reinvestment Act' to anyone with a pulse and respirations.  Now its estimated that nearly half of the homes built during the housing boom are now abandoned. 

I can attest to this personally since I live only a hour away and  recently had the opportunity to be up Stockton's way.  I must tell you that I was flabbergasted by what I observed in the downtown area.  Foreclosure signs dot the landscape like campain posters during the Presidential election.  Businesses are boarded up and lie vacant as if a contagin has plaged the city.  Its a damn shame and if you plan a trip up that way, you should stop and see for yourself, it is quite sad.

Like San Jose and many other cities in the once 'Golden State', Stockton has underfunded their pension plans by raping the property taxes that were supposed to be slated for essential public services and stashed the money into their personal piggy banks called Redevelopment Agencies. That along with the financial mess we and the rest of the world are in at the moment, and you have financial disaster.

And to rub salt into their wounds now the State's governor, Jerry Brown, has said "no-no" to the over 400 Redevelopment Agencies and has made the pirates cough up the booty and redistribute it back into education and emergency services. 

So,what does this mean for the State and the Nation?  There is an old saying that has been around for years, "So goes California, so goes the Nation".  But what I fear most is that people are just not listening to the storm that approaches us all.  

We as a nation are at a crossroads in our history, and the direction we take from this point on is so crucial to our very way of life and existence.  It is time for the American people to wake up from their slumber before we reach a point of no return.  If we don't in time, the American Dream is going to become a sure nightmare. 

Better look up my fellow Americans, There is a "Bad Moon Rising".  


Sunday, May 6, 2012


Once again there is a grassroots movement to abolish capital punishment in California, a move that has been tried many times in our State.  However, as in the past, it only takes one unusually horrific crime like the Polly Klass murder to quickly change people’s minds and start demanding for the re-institution of the death penalty.  

For those of you not familiar with the Polly Klaas case:

Polly Klass

Polly Hannah Klaas (January 3, 1981-October 1993). Kidnapped at knife point by Richard Allen Davis on the night of October 1st, 1993 from her mother's home in Petaluma, California while hosting a slumber party.

During the search for Polly, two police officers from Sonoma County unknowingly made contact with Polly's killer during a routine trespassing complaint in a rural area of the county just 25 miles away from Polly's home. The officers did do a warrant check on Davis that came up negative, however, they failed to conduct a complete check of the his criminal history. Had they done so, the officers would have discovered that Davis had a long history of assaults, robberies and was in violation of his parole.

Davis in Court

Meanwhile, Polly lay helplessly in the brush nearby unable to call out for help. After the officers let Davis go, it is believed he killed Polly shortly thereafter.

The argument for the repeal of capital punishment is the same as it has been since its legalization in 1851, inhumane and too costly to implement and maintain. So too is the same argument in favor of the death penalty; it is a deterrent to capital crimes and insures justice for the victims.

The first real challenge to capital punishment in California came during the use of lethal gas which the State used from 1938 to 1967.  During that time, a total of 194 convicted murderers, including four women, were put to death at San Quentin (San Quentin was the only prison in the State to use cyanide gas).  However, for over 25 years no executions were held in the State due to numerous decisions and stays by the Fed’s and the State Supreme Court.  It would only take another five years for the California State Supreme Court to abolish capital punishment and end executions of any kind. 
California Gas Chamber

The decision in early 1972 to declare capital punishment unconstitutional was quickly amended by the legislature after public outcry and demands from the State’s top cops and D.A.’s to allow executions for certain crimes such as kidnapping if the victim dies (reference the Lindberg and Hart baby kidnappings and murder), train wrecking if any person dies, assault by a prisoner if the victim dies within one year ( to prevent gang hits in prison), treason against the State, and first-degree murder under certain circumstances such as murder for hire, the intentional killing of a peace officer, murder of a witness to prevent testimony against the killer, murders committed during a robbery or burglary, murder during the crime of rape, murder during the crime of lewd and lascivious acts upon a minor, and death for anyone with priors of murder.

In the waning months of 1976, the California Supreme Court, basing its decision on a Supreme Court ruling earlier in the year, held that the California death penalty statute was unconstitutional because it did not allow for the defendant to present any type of “evidence in mitigation” during an appeal for a sentence of death. 

California Supreme Court
Evidence in mitigation is a legal tactic often used as a stalling ploy, usually by a defendant in a criminal trial or appeal, to attempt and establish mitigating circumstances in order to reduce the sentence imposed for the offense committed.  The ban on using this strategy was to halt the never ending appeals filed by those on death row. 

In 1977, the State legislature gave in to the demands of the ACLU and others and permitted evidence in mitigation.  As a result, the legislature re-enacted the death penalty that year allowing capital punishment for “special circumstances” as now described in the statute.  These special circumstances included murder for financial gain, murder with torture, murder of a peace officer, murder of a witness to prevent testimony, and several other murders which include specific acts upon a minor.

The California Penal Code, which defines the circumstances for the sentence of death, also now had a new provision added to it “life without the possibility of parole”.  As previously pointed out, the penalty of death included the crimes of kidnapping for ransom resulting in the death of the victim, extortion, robbery and burglary resulting in a homicide.  However, under the new statute, these crimes were changed to a maximum sentence of imprisonment in the State prison without the possibility of parole, and certain crimes such as treason and train wrecking continued to be punishable by death but also now had the option of life without parole.

As a stop-gap measure, the passage of Proposition 7 in 1978 superseded the 1977 statute which now makes it mandatory that all death penalty convictions be reviewed by the State Supreme Court which in turn could:

1.      Uphold the conviction and therefore, the death sentence;

2.      Affirm the conviction but reverse the death sentence
              resulting in a retrial of the penalty phase only; or

3.      Reverse the conviction all-together which results in a
               new trial.

As an additional fail-safe from wrongful conviction, even an affirmation of sentence by the California Supreme Court still gives the defendant appeals that may be heard in both State and Federal courts.
Even with the re-instatement of the death penalty in 1978, not one person condemned to death ever met with the “Grim Reaper” until the 1992 execution of Robert Alton Harris.  Harris killed two teenage boys in 1978 in San Diego.  Harris’s final words before getting the gas were “You can be a king or a street sweeper, but everybody dances with the Grim Reaper”. 
By October of the next year however, a U.S. District judge in San Francisco ruled that the gas chamber was cruel and unusual punishment and his decision, which sought to ban the practice of death by lethal gas in California, was upheld by the now infamous left-wing U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals early in 1996.  That decision effectively wiped-out the use of lethal gas in the State and instead, death by lethal injection became the manner of death.  The first inmate to die by lethal injection was William Bonin in February of 1996. Bonin, was nicknamed the “Freeway Killer” because he picked-up his victims while they were hitchhiking, killed them inside his white Chevrolet van, and then dumping their bodies along numerous California freeways, at least 21 in all and most likely many more unidentified or found.
Even with the abolishment of death by lethal gas, the constitutional challenges still kept coming by those adamantly opposed to the death penalty.  In February of 2006, condemned prisoner Michael Angelo Morales’s execution was put on hold because his lawyers claimed that the way California was administrating the injections violated the 8th Amendment’s prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment, and again the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals stayed his execution just two hours before his sentence was to be carried out.  By the way, Morales was convicted of the brutal slaying and sexual assault of Terri Winchell on January 8th, 1981.  Winchell was in a love triangle with a man named Richard Ortega, a cousin of Morales, and another man.   Ortega hired his cousin Michael to kill Winchell so he (Ortega) could carry-on a love affair with his male lover (the other man).  In the trial, the details were so gruesome that you may have trouble reading this.
Morales attacked Winchell from behind and tried to strangle her with his belt.  When that didn’t work, he hit her repeatedly with a hammer until she was unconscious.  Still not dead, Morales dragged Winchell face-down across a tar and gravel road and into a vineyard and then preceded to rape her multiple times and then finishing the job by plunging a knife into his victim’s chest four times.
Chief Justice of 9th Circuit
On December 15th of the same year, the 9th U.S. District Court of Appeals said, “California’s lethal-injection protocol-as actually administered in practice, create[d] an undue and unnecessary risk that an inmate will suffer pain so extreme that it offends the Eighth Amendment.”  The Court went on to say, “Defendants’ implementation of lethal-injection is broken, but it can be fixed.”
In that December 15th decision, the Court identified five deficiencies in the way lethal injections were being administered:
1.      Inconsistent and unreliable screening of execution team members;
2.      A lack of meaningful training, supervision, and oversight of the execution team;
3.      Inconsistent and unreliable record keeping;
4.      Improper mixing, preparation, and administration of
         sodium thiopental by the execution team;

5.      Inadequate lighting, overcrowded conditions, and
         poorly designed facilities in which the execution 
         team must work.
To this date, the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) has met all the conditions set forth by the courts and then some.  As of January 1, 2012, there are 3,189 inmates on death row nationwide; California has 723 awaiting execution. 
Laci Petersen
As to how many victims there have been since the death penalty was first made law in the State way back in 1851, no one knows.  I do know this much however, whatever side of the debate you are on, it is much harder to decide when you put names and faces to those that have been murdered instead of just numbers and statistics.  Here is just a small list of the victims in California, and I do mean small.  I caution you however, the descriptions of the crimes below are very difficult to read even for a veteran like myself with over 31 years in the fire and police business:

Kim Raymond Kopatz
Convicted and sentenced to death in the 1999 strangulation slayings of his wife and 3-year-old daughter for insurance money. The verdicts brought sobs from the audience. Kopatz's immediate family and his wife's relatives were at opposite sides of the courtroom. Kopatz, 48, of Riverside, slowly shook his head and talked to his lawyer. Prosecutor William Mitchell used mostly circumstantial evidence to prove that Kopatz used an electrical cord to strangle his wife Mary, 35, and daughter, Carley, and then tried to make the murders appear to be random attacks by a robber, rapist or some other vicious stranger.

Michael Hill
On August 15, 1985, the bodies of Anthony Brice, Sr., and his four-year-old son, Anthony Brice, Jr., were found by police on the floor of the jewelry store operated by Brice in Oakland, California. Each victim had been shot in the head at close range with a .38-caliber gun. The appearance of the crime scene suggested there had been a robbery. Michael Hill was sentenced to death for the murders.

Alexander Rashad Hamilton
Convicted and sentenced to Death in 2007 for the April 23,2005 murder of Pittsburg police Officer Larry Lasater. Andrew Moffett, who was not the shooter but was convicted under California's felony murder rule, was 17 on April 23, 2005, when he and co-defendant Alexander Hamilton, 18 at the time, had a friend steal a car for them and went into the Raley's supermarket in Pittsburg wearing gloves, masks and carrying semi-automatic pistols. At the supermarket, Moffett pressed his gun to one of the cashier's ears, demanded cash and threatened to kill her. He and Hamilton threatened to kill at least two other cashiers and tellers at the Wells Fargo branch bank inside the store before fleeing with the cash, witnesses testified during trial. As the two teens were making their getaway, they crashed the stolen car and took off on foot through backyards and over fences. Eventually they ended up on the Delta De Anza trail as police closed in on them.  Moffett jumped a fence and kept running, but Hamilton was too tired and hid in the bushes. He started shooting when he saw Lasater, 35, the first officer to arrive on scene. Two bullets struck him and he went down. When two more police officers, who happened to be identical twins, went to help Lasater, Hamilton fired at them, too, but missed. According to prosecutor Harold Jewett, Hamilton kept firing until he ran out of bullets and was forced to surrender.

Richard Wade Farley
Obsessed with former co-worker Laura Black, Richard Farley after perusing his unwilling love interest for several years, eventually costing him his job and a restraining order, Farley decided to take action.  In February 1988 he purchased $2,000 worth of guns and ammunition to augment his arsenal in preparation for his plan.  On February 16th, 1988 after 1500hrs he went to the place of his former employment, Electromagnetic Systems Labs, located in Sunnyvale California and unleashed his fury on his former company.   After five hours of violence the toll was calculated, 7 dead and 4 wounded, one of them Ms. Black.  He was convicted in October  1991 on seven counts of first degree murder and four other felonies, and sentenced to death on January 12, 1992.
Warren Hardy – Convicted with accomplices Kevin Pearson and Jamelle Armstrong and sentenced to death for the gruesome robbery, rape, torture and murder of a Long Beach woman who made the mistake of wishing him a happy New Year when passing by them on the street on Dec. 28, 1998.

Randy E. Garcia
On May 8, 1993, Garcia broke into the home of Joseph and Lynn Finzel, 29 and 28 respectively. Mr. Finzel was not at home and their baby daughter was asleep in her crib. Garcia immediately tied Mrs. Finzel to the bed and attempted to rape her. Her husband interrupted everything by returning home, at which time, he was shot by Garcia with his own gun. A gun Garcia found in the house. He then turned around and shot Mrs. Finzel. In fear for her baby daughter's life, Mrs. Finzel played "dead" for two hours. The bed which she was tied up on was a water bed and the water was seeping to the surface. Not only did Mrs. Finzel have to pretend to be dead, she had to try to keep from drowning. Or crying out as Garcia heartlessly ransacked the house, even stealing the wedding ring off her dead husband's hand. Thinking his victims were dead, Garcia left the home. It was then that Mrs. Finzel managed to free herself, climb over her husband's dead body and stagger into the street for help, with a bullet lodged in her. Sentenced to Death in 1995.
Veronica Gonzales
A Chula Vista woman probably will join her husband on death row for submerging their nearly 4-year-old niece in a bathtub of water so hot it peeled the skin from her body. The same jury that two weeks ago convicted Veronica Gonzales, 28, of murder recommended Wednesday that she be executed for the death of Genny Rojas. "Oh, God, no!" Gonzales exclaimed when the verdict was read. She then covered her face with her hands and began sobbing. She was later taken out of the courtroom in a wheelchair.
Gonzales' husband, Ivan, is already on death row for the girl's murder. The couple would be the first in California to face execution for the same crime. During her six-week trial, Veronica Gonzales testified that her husband was to blame for the murder, saying she suffered from battered woman's syndrome.
Genny died in July 1995, six months after she was sent to live with the Gonzaleses and their six children. Her mother was in drug rehabilitation and her father was in jail for child molestation.

James Daveggio
couple accused of abducting, raping and murdering a 22-year-old Pleasanton woman in a minivan rigged for torture was sentenced to death Wednesday. James Daveggio, 41, and his then-girlfriend Michelle Michaud, 43, kidnapped Vanessa Lei Samson in December 1997. The Sacramento couple kept Samson inside their minivan, rigged with hooks and ropes, where they repeatedly tortured her with curling irons while driving east toward the Sierra Nevada. A motorist found Samson's body two days later, face down in the snow, about 30 feet down an embankment alongside a road in Alpine County. She had been strangled. Judge Larry Goodman ordered Wednesday morning that Daveggio be delivered to San Quentin State Prison within 10 days.

Jasari Donaldson
Date of crime: 1998
Donaldson kidnapped Khen Tran on her way to an adult class, raped her, put her in the trunk of his car, and then set the car on fire, burning her to death. He had been out on parole only two weeks at the time. The case was solved “cold” in 2000 through a “hit” in the state’s new DNA databank. At that time, Donaldson was serving sentences of more than 200 years in prison for another attempted murder and carjacking. No information is available concerning the defense approach to the case.

Dean Eric Dunlap
Date of Crime:  1/10/92
Dunlap kidnapped 9-year-old Sandra Astorga on her way to school.  He raped her and held her several days.  The case was solved in 1999 due to a match with DNA he provided before a planned parole for another sexual assault.

Scott Erskine
Date of crime: 3/27/1993
Charlie Keever and Jonathan Sellers (ages 13 and 9) were molested, tortured and strangled to death by Erskine; Sellers’ body was discovered hanging from a tree. The case went unsolved for eleven years until new DNA analysis linked Erskine to the killings. When Erskine was charged with the boys’ murders he was already serving a 70-year sentence for rape. He had an additional long history of sex crimes. Erskine also pleaded guilty to murdering a woman in Florida in 1989. The defense did not contest the killing, but asked the jury to spare Erskine life because he suffered from a brain injury when he was hit by a car at age five. The defense argued the injury caused Erskine to lose the ability to stop sexual

Antonio Espinoza
Renee Rontal and Nancy Rubia, both ages 13, were found dead in an irrigation ditch west of Stockton on January 25, 1982. Renee's throat had been cut, Nancy had been drowned as a result of having her face forced into the muddy water of the ditch, and both girls had been sexually assaulted. Renee and Nancy were last seen alive with two men: Antonio Espinoza and Alfredo Reyes-Reyes. Sentenced to Death 1986.

Giles Albert Nadey Jr.
A felony probationer who had four prior felony convictions and had previously served several prison terms, Albert Nadey savagely sodomized and murdered a 24-year-old woman in Alameda. Terena Fermenick, wife of Don Fermenick and new mother of five-month-old Regan, began relocating with her family in late 1995 from Pleasanton to Alameda, California. Don had just been appointed Pastor of the Church of Christ in Alameda, and they were in the process of moving into the designated church residence. On the afternoon of January 18, 1996, Terena and the baby went to the new residence to meet with an employee of Chem-Dry, a company she chose out of the yellow pages a few days earlier to clean the rugs prior to their move-in. The carpet cleaner was Giles Albert Nadey. Terena met with Nadey, discussed the areas to be cleaned, and then left for about two hours so she did not have to be alone with Nadey as he worked. When she returned about 4:00 p.m., she left the baby in her car, wrote and gave a check to Nadey at the door, and was about to depart — when Nadey apparently tricked her to return by claiming he needed to see her driver’s license in order to accept her check.
Once inside, Nadey produced a knife, forced her into the master bedroom, made her strip, stabbed her twice in the right flank to show he was serious, then forced her onto the bed where he viciously sodomized her. Thereafter, he pulled her head back and cut her throat, severing the jugular vein.
Though fatally maimed, Terena staggered through the hallway and into the family room where she ultimately collapsed near a telephone. According to the pathologist, she lived for 60-90 seconds before bleeding out and dying. When Terena and baby Regan failed to return home, the fearful Pastor drove to Alameda and retraced his wife’s last-known whereabouts. At the church residence, he found the baby in Terena’s car, and his dead and obviously abused wife some six hours after the carnage. Alameda police executed a search warrant on Nadey and his residence. Recovered from the search was a notepad containing writings made by Nadey boasting, “sodomy is my specialty.”
Among other evidence, blood drawn from Nadey was compared to anal swabs from Terena’s body and semen stains on her jeans; a DNA expert from California’s Department of Justice found a match, with the frequency being one in 32 billion. Giles Albert Nadey was sentenced to death in April 2000 following his conviction for murder with special circumstances and sodomy.
Charles Chitat Ng
Charles Ng and Leonard Lake tortured and killed 12 people in a kidnapping and sex-slavery spree in Northern California in 1984 and 1985. Lake took a cyanide pill to commit suicide. Ng, whose 1999 trial was moved to Santa Ana because of pretrial publicity in Northern California, was convicted and sentenced to death on 06/30/1999. His victims were; Kathleen Allen,Michael Carroll, Robin Stapley, Randy Johnson, Charles Gunnar, Donald Lake, Paul Cosner, Brenda O'Conner, Lonnie Bond Sr., Lonnie Bond Jr., Harvey Dubbs, Deborah Dubbs, and Sean Dubbs.

Calvin Lamont Parker
Convicted and sentenced to Death in 2003 for the killing of Patricia Gallego was read in court. Parker also raped the Brazilian immigrant and dismembered her body in the 2000 slaying. The trail that led to a judge sentencing Calvin Lamont Parker to death yesterday began when a transient rummaging through a trash bin behind a pet store in the Midway District found a human finger. In the vicinity, police officers discovered eight fingertips, which appeared to be burned, along with a bolt cutter, a used roll of duct tape, cigarette lighters, notes, paperwork, incense, a breathing mask, cologne, clothing, red-stained rubber gloves and numerous other objects, according to court documents. That same day – Aug. 14, 2000 – two women found the body of Patricia Gallego, 29, in Carlsbad. The body was wrapped in plastic and stuffed into a large wheeled trash can with several pieces of duct tape on the outside. Parker was arrested, tried and convicted in the murder, rape and dismemberment of his former roommate, a Brazilian native who her parents said came to the United States in 1997 to start a new life. In a rambling hour-long talk before San Diego County Superior Court Judge Michael Wellington yesterday, Parker accused his attorneys and the prosecutors of collusion. Defense attorney Dawnella Gilzean said outside of court that Parker's having been sexually and physically abused as a child contributed to his sense of isolation and his inability to trust anyone. Wellington denied a defense request to sentence Parker to life in prison without parole. Instead, he upheld the jury's recommendation that the 33-year-old former eyeglass salesman and Navy man should die by lethal injection for murdering Gallego in the apartment they shared near the
University of San Diego. The judge agreed with the prosecution that Parker "was romantically and sexually obsessed with the victim and had a deep hatred of her." Gallego first met Parker in 1998 when she was dating his then-roommate, according to court documents. They moved in together in May 2000, but were not romantically involved. Prosecutors Brenda Daly and Blaine Bowman said Parker wrote about his infatuation with Gallego
and superimposed her face on the pictures of at least 75 of the hundreds of women in sexual positions that he had on his walls, his bed and in duffel bags. They said the murder was carefully planned and that Parker tried to steal her money by cashing forged checks after he killed her.
Parker had taken a week off from work, telling his boss that he needed to visit his mother. He wrote out a "to-do" list detailing what he intended to do to Gallego that included notes about getting a "small med. car w/ decent trunk, burn palms + face thoroughly." Prosecutors said he then attacked Gallego in their apartment, handcuffed her, raped her, hit her in the head and slit her throat. He drained her blood in the bathtub and cut up the body.
Parker got rid of the blood-and-semen-spattered mattress from her bed in a field in Bonita, prosecutors said. The last time Gallego was seen alive was when she left her job at Cafe Chloe on Pearl Street in La Jolla a few days before her body was found. She was killed two weeks before her 30th birthday. Her father, Ruben Gallego, testified during Parker's trial that he had a plane ticket and was planning to visit her for her birthday when he received a telephone call about his daughter's death. Her mother, who attended the trial, was not present at the sentencing. Gallego was her only child. "She didn't die by herself," her mother, Terezinha Ramos Das Silva, said. "It was a family that died with her. I died twice."

Gerald Parker
Serial killer Gerald Parker, dubbed the "Bedroom Basher" for a spree of sex slayings that terrorized Orange County in the 1970s, was sentenced to death in 1999 after an emotional hearing in which victims' families spoke of their years of anguish and loss.
Using new DNA technology and a computer database, prosecutors developed the case against Parker 17 years after he raped and murdered five Orange County women and killed the unborn child of a sixth woman. The surviving victim's husband was later wrongly convicted of the crime.
Sandra Kay Fry, 17, Anaheim, Dec. 2, 1978
Kimberly Rawlins, 21, Costa Mesa, April 1, 1979
Marolyn Carleton, 31, Costa Mesa, Sept. 14, 1979
Chantel Marie Green, stillborn, Tustin, Sept. 30, 1979
Debora Jean Kennedy, 24, Tustin, Oct. 7, 1979
Debra Lynn Senior, 17, Costa Mesa, Oct. 21, 1979

Scott Peterson
Either strangled or smothered his wife on or around Christmas Eve 2002 and dumped the body in the San Francisco Bay.  Peterson claims he was fishing alone that day.  The decision came almost two years to the date after the disappearance of Laci Peterson, a 27-year-old substitute teacher who married her college sweetheart and was soon to be the proud mother of a baby boy named Conner. The story set off a tabloid frenzy as suspicion began to swirl around Scott Peterson, who claimed to have been fishing by himself on Christmas Eve and was carrying on an affair with a massage therapist at the time.  The remains of Laci and the fetus washed ashore about four months later, just a few miles from where Peterson claims to have gone fishing in San Francisco Bay. The case went to trial in June, and Peterson was convicted Nov. 12 of two counts of murder.
Harold Ray Memro
Was sentenced to death for murdering 3 children -  Scott F. and Ralph C. on July 26, 1976, and Carl C., Jr. (Carl Jr.), on October 22, 1978.

Michael M. Martinez
Convicted of murdering Lisa White and attempting to murder her daughter in White's Hayward home
in December 1990. White was beaten to death with a hammer and also stabbed in the neck,
authorities said. Her daughter testified that Martinez raped her and hit her in the head with a
hammer. When she regained consciousness, the girl said, she saw Martinez hit White with the
hammer and stab her as she entered the home. Martinez, who worked for a moving company,
admitted killing White but denied molesting her daughter, an attack that made the murder a
capital crime. He said he had gone to the house to sell methamphetamine to White and that they
had shared drugs before getting into an argument. He said she had first swung the hammer at him
and that he had then punched her, grabbed the hammer and hit her in the face and head.

Lawrence Bittaker
Bittaker and Norris hatched a plan to rape and kill local girls. Bittaker bought a 1977 GMC cargo van, which they came to call 'Murder Mack', because it had no side windows in the back and a large passenger side sliding door. From February to June 1979, they gave their plan a test run. They drove along the Pacific Coast Highway, stopped at beaches, talked to girls and took their pictures. When arrested police found close to 500 pictures among Bittaker's possessions. On June 24, 1979 they claimed their first real victim, 16-year-old Cindy Schaeffer. They picked her up near Redondo Beach, Norris forcing her into the van. He duct taped her mouth and bound her arms and legs. Bittaker drove the van to a fire road on San Gabriel Mountains out of sight of the highway. Both men raped the girl, and then Bittaker wrapped a straightened wire coat hanger around her neck. He tightened the wire with vice-grip pliers, strangling her to death. They wrapped her body in a plastic shower curtain and dumped it in a nearby canyon. They picked up 18-year-old Andrea Hall hitchhiking on July 8. Norris hid in the back of the van and Bittaker talked her into the van. After she had gotten in Bittaker offered her a drink from a cooler in the back. When she went to the cooler Norris jumped her, bound her arms and legs, and taped her mouth. They took her to the fire road and raped her several times. Bittaker dragged her from the van, and Norris left to get beer. When he returned Andrea was gone and Bittaker was looking at Polaroid pictures of her. He had stabbed her with an ice pick in both ears and when she wouldn't die fast enough, strangled her. He threw her body over a cliff. On September 3, while driving near Hermosa Beach, the pair spotted two girls on a bus stop bench and offered them a ride. Jackie Gilliam, 15, and Leah Lamp,13, accepted their offer. The girls became suspicious when Bittaker parked the van near a suburban tennis court. Leah went for the back door and Norris hit her in the head with a bat. A short scuffle broke out, but with Bittaker's help Norris subdued the teens and bound them both in the usual fashion. Bittaker then drove them to the fire road. They kept the girls alive for two days, raping and torturing them the whole time with a wire hanger and pliers. They even made an audio recording of the events. Eventually Bittaker stabbed Jackie in both ears with an ice pick. Like Andrea Hall she didn't die, and the men took turns strangling her until she died. Bittaker then strangled Leah while Norris hit her in the head with a sledgehammer seven times. They dumped the bodies over a cliff, the ice pick still in Jackie's head. They kidnapped Shirley Sanders on September 30, macing her and forcing her into the van. Both raped her, but she escaped. Unfortunately she couldn't identify the men and didn't know the license plate number of the van. They kidnapped 16-year-old Lynette Ledford on October 31, raping her and torturing her with a pair of pliers, while driving around Los Angeles instead of heading to their usual mountain spot. Again they tape recorded the whole thing, eventually strangling her with a wire hanger and pliers. Instead of tossing her body over a cliff, they left it on a random lawn in Hermosa Beach to see local reaction in the newspaper. The body was found the next day and caused quite a stir, being only days since the arrest of "Hillside Strangler" Angelo Buono.
Norris had been telling prison friend Jimmy Dalton all about the murders. Dalton thought the stories were lies until Ledford's body was found. He talked to his lawyer and they went to the Los Angeles Police Department with the information about Norris. Bittaker was convicted of rape, torture, kidnapping, and murder on February 17, 1981 and sentenced to death. As of February 2008, he is still on Death Row, where he still receives fan mail from women, which he signs using his nickname "Pliers" Bittaker. Norris was also sentenced, but was guaranteed not to serve a life sentence or be executed for his testimony against Bittaker.

James Nelson Blair
Convicted on July 19, 1985, of the attempted murders of Dorothy Green and Rhoda Miller by placing cyanide in a bottle of gin from which they drank. He was sentenced to a term of 14 years and 4 months, and his conviction and sentence were affirmed on appeal. In October 1986, after Dorothy Green died as a result of complications from the poisoning, Blair was charged with murder. On May 2, 1989, a jury found him guilty of murder in the first degree and found true the special circumstance that he intentionally killed the victim by poison. Approximately two months later, Blair was sentenced to death.

Richard Booker
Convicted and sentenced to Death in 1999 of the 1995 murders of two girls and a young mother in a Riverside apartment he set on fire with the mother's baby inside. The 7-month-old boy was saved when firefighters discovered the bodies of Tricia Powalka, 19, Amanda Elliott, 15, and Corina Gandara, 12, inside the smoke-filled apartment on the morning of Aug. 10, 1995. All three were stabbed and slashed and Elliott also was shot.

Dewayn Boyce
Kevin Boyce, a member of the Crips street gang, received the death penalty in 2000 for murdering Shayne York, an off-duty Los Angeles County deputy, after finding York's badge during a 1997 hair salon robbery in Buena Park. Boyce kicked York in the side, called him a "pig" and shot him in the back of the head.