January 13, 2006

Schwarzenegger denies clemency to aged murderer

By Jim Christie

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - California Gov. Arnold
Schwarzenegger said on Friday he would not spare the life of
the state's oldest condemned man Clarence Ray Allen, who is
scheduled for execution on Tuesday, a day after he turns 76.

Allen, who is legally blind, uses a wheelchair and suffers
from chronic heart disease and diabetes, would be the
second-oldest man executed in the United States in recent

A 77-year-old man in Mississippi last month became the
oldest person executed in the United States since it resumed
capital punishment in 1977.

"His conduct did not result from youth or inexperience, but
instead resulted from the hardened and calculating decisions of
a mature man," Schwarzenegger said in statement explaining why
he denied clemency to Allen.

Schwarzenegger said Allen's age and poor health should not
prevent his execution.

"Allen's death sentence has been delayed due to litigation.
Our justice system provides Allen the right to challenge his
convictions and sentence, and he has done so for the last 23
years. Allen should not escape the jury's punishment because
our system works deliberately and carefully," Schwarzenegger

Allen says he is innocent and his lawyers have filed
last-ditch appeals to the U.S. Supreme Court and the U.S. 9th
Circuit Court of Appeals to stay his execution.

The celebrity governor had denied clemency requests in the
three previous cases he has reviewed since taking office in

A Fresno, California businessman who turned to crime in
middle-age, Allen was sentenced to death for ordering the
killings in 1980 of three people while serving a life sentence
for murder in prison.

Allen's execution at California's San Quentin prison would
follow the December 13 execution of Stanley Tookie Williams,
the ex-leader of the Crips gang convicted of four murders in
1979. Some 2,000 demonstrators, including celebrities,
protested Williams' execution outside the gates of San Quentin

A federal judge in Sacramento, California, on Thursday
declined to block Allen's execution, finding there is no U.S.
Supreme Court precedent to support arguments that executing an
elderly and ill prisoner would amount to cruel and unusual

"Nothing about his advanced age or his physical infirmities
... affected his culpability at the time he committed the
capital offenses," U.S. District Judge Frank Damrell Jr. wrote.