Victims’ Family Members Rip Newsom over Capital Punishment Moratorium

SACRAMENTO -- Loved ones of victims are criticizing Governor Gavin Newsom over his decision to sign a moratorium on the death penalty in California.

"My daughter was a vibrant, 12-year-old child that was hosting a slumber party with two of her girlfriends in the home she shared with her mother in Petaluma, California," Marc Klaas told FOX40 in an interview over Skype.

Klaas' daughter, Polly, was abducted and killed by Richard Allen Davis in 1993.

"He had kidnapped, raped and murdered her and then discarded her remains off the side of a freeway within about a two-hour time frame and felt absolutely no remorse for that at all," Klaas said.

Davis has been sitting on death row since he was convicted and sentenced in 1996. Klaas says he hopes to see Davis die in his lifetime.

"It's the punishment that was handed down. It’s the punishment that he deserves and that others deserve, and it will close an important chapter in Polly’s story," Klaas said.

Newsom's moratorium on capital punishment spares the lives of 737 inmates, including Davis.

"I died a little bit, I really did. I was taken aback," Klaas said. "I became angry, quite frankly, and hugely disappointed."

Klaas calls the governor's decision a travesty of justice.

"The reality is is that he doesn’t care about my situation. He’s more concerned with my daughter’s killer than justice for my daughter," he said.

Klaas believes the majority of Californians support the death penalty and the governor is simply circumventing what he calls "the law of the land." Voters in the state approved a measure in 2016 to expedite the death penalty process.

"It goes against the sentence handed down by a jury of every one these individual's peers," Klaas said. "And based on his own conscience, his own philosophy, his own whim turn his back on that and say there will be no executions in California under my watch. That’s the travesty."

"Because we did vote, Prop. 66 in 2016, that we want this reformed. We want the death penalty to work," said Stacey Birdsong. "In the long run, we’re paying for him to stay on death row. I don’t want to hear about how great of a life he has because Laci doesn’t have a life. Conner doesn’t have a life, he never had life."

Laci Peterson's friends, Stacey Birdsong and Rene Tomlinson, told FOX40 they can’t believe the governor would prevent her murderer, husband Scott Peterson, from being executed.

"No one allowed any kind of moratorium for those victims," Tomlinson said.

"How is it humane how Laci and Conner died? Do you think Scott was humane about how he ended their lives?" Birdsong said.

It's a move that also caused great frustration for David Wallace.

"Yesterday, they were sentenced to death. Today, they’re sentenced to life without," Wallace told FOX40.

In November of 2016, Wallace’s brother, Deputy Dennis Wallace, was shot and killed execution style allegedly by David Machado. Last month, Machado was found mentally competent to stand trial.

"And those guys with life without all of a sudden become life with a possibility," Wallace said. "Because all it takes is a little bit of comfort and then we move the line a little bit farther over."

However, Gov. Newsom’s moratorium on the death penalty does have some family members of murder victims applauding.

"Why do we kill people who kill people to show that killing people is wrong?" said Aba Gayle.

Gayle's daughter, Catherine, was murdered in 1980. Her killer now sits on death row.

"Don’t kill in my name but far more important to me is don’t kill in Catherine's name because it would dishonor her spirit," Gayle said.

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