Christmas Eve commutations include seven from San Joaquin County
SACRAMENTO - Last week, on Christmas Eve, Governor Edmund "Jerry" Brown granted 143 pardons and 131 commutations; five convicts receiving clemency are San Joaquin County convicts. (See, link below, "December 2018 Pardons and Commutations."
Approximately 103 of those granted clemencies were convicted of killing at least one person. Four of the convicted killers, who have already served their sentences, were granted pardons.
The other 99 inmates convicted of murder were granted commutations. The vast majority of those commutations reduced the murderers' sentence low enough to allow them to have a parole hearing either immediately or within the next two years.
For example, Linda Woo was convicted in 2009 for the 2006 for murder of her 3-year-old daughter during a suicide/murder attempt in which she lighted a barbecue grill inside her ex-lover's car. Her 4-year-old son survived along with Woo. A San Francisco judge sentenced Woo to 25 years to life. The Governor commuted Woo's sentence to 13 years to life, making her eligible for parole in 2019.
The 99 murderers do not include the several other inmates given clemency who were convicted of either conspiracy to commit murder or attempted murder.
Of the 99 murderers who were granted commutations, 73 of the murderers had been sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole; that is, they had also been convicted of a special circumstance while committing the murder and were never to be eligible for parole.
In San Joaquin County, Governor Brown granted pardons to three persons who were convicted of non-violent gun related offenses.
The Governor also granted commutations to four other San Joaquin County convicts:
On February 24, 2012, Daniel Batchelder, then 19, was driving with Francisco Limon, then 17, when he pulled up alongside a car being driven by Everuvaldo Cruz-Espino, 28. They both were stopped at a traffic light at the intersection of Tracy Boulevard and Whispering Wind Drive in Tracy. Witnesses indicated that Limon fired a shot that fatally struck Cruz-Espino in the neck. Both Batchelder and Limon were charged with murder.
On June 24, 2013, Batchelder entered a negotiated plea for attempted murder and a firearm enhancement, and was sentenced 15 years in state prison.
Governor Brown commuted Batchelder's sentence so he will be "eligible for parole consideration by January 1, 2021." (See, page 169 in the below link.)
Former SJCDA Deputy District Attorney Mark Ott prosecuted the case.
Michael Eugene Caputo
On December 18, 1983, Caputo, and his brothers, Bernard Patrick Gordon and Patrick Bruce Gordon, robbed William Camp Wiley, a courier for an armored car service, outside a Stockton K-Mart store. During the robbery, Wiley was shot three times in the chest and once in the abdomen, and died as a result of his wounds.
Caputo and Bernard Patrick Gordon were the ones who fired the fatal shots while Patrick Bruce Gordon remained in the car as the get away driver.
An investigation also found that the three had committed a similar robbery 13 months earlier in Riverside. After their arrests, all three were charged with murder with special circumstances.
Patrick Bruce Gordon was convicted the special circumstance murder and given the death penalty on May 3, 1985. He remains on death row. (People v. Gordon (1990) 50 Cal.3d 1223.)
After a separate trial, Caputo was convicted of murder with special circumstances and, on July 27, 1988, was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Governor Brown commuted Caputo's sentence to 35 years to life. Caputo has already served the necessary 35 years and is eligible for a parole hearing now. (See, page 181 in the below link.)
Former SJCDA Deputy District Attorney Michael Platt prosecuted the case.
Kelly Marie Flynn
In May 1996, Kelly Marie Flynn, then 17, recruited three men who were either her current or former boyfriends to beat Reginald Rachal, 24. Flynn claimed that Rachal had raped her; a claim that the prosecutor said was a lie: "He was an innocent young man who was manipulated and slaughtered by the defendants." Flynn lured Rachal to an area where the other three were waiting. There, the men beat, stabbed, and shot Rachal before throwing him into a river.
The three men - Kareem Sims, Harry Haanstra, and Gabriel Gonzales - were all convicted for their part in the murder.
On December 19, 1997, Flynn was convicted of first-degree murder and kidnapping, and was sentenced to 33 years to life.
Governor Brown commuted Flynn's sentence to 22 years to life. Flynn has already served the necessary 22 years and is eligible for a parole hearing now (See, page 217 in the below link.)
Former SJCDA Deputy District Attorney George Dunlap prosecuted the case
On May 23, 2003, Johanna Hudnall, was sentenced to over 36 years in prison for seven burglaries and other associated charges.
Governor Brown commuted Hudnall 's sentence so she will be "eligible for immediate parole consideration." (See, page 255 in the below link.)