SANTA ANA, Calif. (AP) — A federal appeals court has secretly overturned the death penalty for a Southern California man who spent nearly three decades on death row.
Kenneth Clair was sentenced in 1987 for the 1984 stabbing, beating and strangling of a babysitter in Santa Ana.
The Orange County Register says the court upheld Clair’s conviction in March but overturned his penalty, citing incompetence by his lawyer and questions about DNA found on Linda Rodgers’ body that didn’t match Clair’s.
The Register says the court sealed its ruling out of concern that Clair might be attacked in San Quentin prison.
On Friday, Orange County prosecutors said they wouldn’t challenge the decision, so Clair will now serve a life sentence without parole.
Meanwhile, some 150,000 supporters have signed an online petition seeking Clair’s exoneration.