U.S. Supreme Court turns down killer's appeal

By Howard Mintz
San Jose Mercury News
WASHINGTON, D.C. The U.S. Supreme Court today turned away condemned Santa Clara County killer David Allen Raley's last legal appeal, a development that ordinarily would lead to a firm execution date within a few months.

But as is the case for more than 650 inmates on California's death row, time remains on Raley's side, at least for now.

The Supreme Court's decision last week to review a challenge to lethal injection procedures in a case out of Kentucky ensures that Raley's possible execution will remain on hold until at least next summer. In fact, with a challenge to California's lethal injection method also pending in the federal courts, it could be even longer before this state can resume executing inmates who've exhausted their appeals, such as Raley.

Raley, on death row since 1988, is among just three or four inmates who would confront imminent execution if California is permitted to restart lethal injections at San Quentin prison. He would also be the first condemned murderer from Santa Clara County executed since California restored the death penalty in 1978.

With his legal appeals exhausted, Raley's only chance for a reprieve is a clemency petition to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

The 45-year-old Raley was sentenced to die for the 1985 kidnap and murder of a Peninsula high school student and the attempted murder of her friend at a deserted Hillsborough mansion. Raley, a security guard, turned a tour of the mansion into a day of terror for the two girls, Laurie McKenna and Janine Grinsell, who died from repeated stab wounds.

McKenna, now Laurie Vanlandingham, survived. The Mercury News last year profiled her journey from a south San Jose ravine where Raley left her to die to her current life with her husband and two children in Georgia.

Last summer, she said Raley deserved to die for his crimes and doesn't really understand why he'd want to live after all these years in prison. But she also has no plans to attend Raley's execution whenever it is scheduled.

Copyright 2007 San Jose Mercury News

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