Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Clairemont Killer

First Appeal

In May 2007, the California Supreme Court upheld the death sentence for Prince, in a 159-page unanimous ruling that dismissed basically all of the legal beefs Prince's attorneys presented.

The California Supreme Court
The California Supreme Court

As to his claim about pre-trial publicity, the court found that the majority of the articles published prior to the trial had been "framed in neutral terms." The judge had taken pains to keep Prince's picture out of the papers, so there was little basis for Prince's claim of unfair prejudice.

Chief Justice Ronald George
Chief Justice Ronald George

The brunt of the complaint was against the use of Special Agent Larry Ankrom, the profiler. Essentially, Prince stated that jury members did not need an expert to help them see the linkage at the scene and having the expert in that role prejudiced them against him. Chief Justice Ronald George concluded that the testimony had not been improper because Ankrom had only described the process of linkage analysis performed by the FBI to indicate that it was likely the same person had committed all six murders, but had not concluded that Prince had committed any of the murders. His testimony had been restricted to a method, which was appropriate. He had provided a context for meaning.

Four other points of contention were also dismissed, including admitting statements that Prince had made to friends who testified, admitting evidence about premeditation, and complaints about a limited closure of the courtroom during the FBI agent's testimony about an unrelated murder.

However, this is just the first of his appeals, coming 14 years after his conviction. He can appeal this ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court. Then he can pursue other claims at the level of the state court. After that, he can file new appeals in federal court. Thus, he could be in prison for another decade or longer.

 

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