State Supreme Court Overturns Death Row Conviction in 1983 Killing of LAPD Officer

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Sitting inside San Fernando Superior Court, defendant Kenneth E. Gay appears alongside his attorney, Kenneth Lezin, in 2000. Gay was given a death sentence at the time.(Credit: Boris Yaro / Los Angeles Times)

Sitting inside San Fernando Superior Court, defendant Kenneth E. Gay appears alongside his attorney, Kenneth Lezin, in 2000. Gay was given a death sentence at the time.(Credit: Boris Yaro / Los Angeles Times)

The California Supreme Court decided unanimously Thursday to overturn a man’s conviction in the killing of an LAPD officer 37 years ago during a traffic stop.

The state high court, citing extensive evidence that the defense lawyer for Kenneth Earl Gay was incompetent, reversed the conviction that sent Gay to death row in the death of Officer Paul Verna on the evening of June 2, 1983, in Lakeview Terrace.

Gay’s case has bounced between the lower courts and the California Supreme Court for years. The court overturned his death sentence years ago on the grounds he had an inadequate lawyer, and a new trial was held on whether he should be condemned to death. Another jury also recommended death, but the second death sentence also was overturned.

Gay then argued that his lawyer, Daye Shinn, also botched the guilty phase of his trial. Shinn, who was later disbarred and has since died, lied to get Gay’s case, evidence showed, counseled the defendant to admit to incriminating evidence and failed to introduce evidence that might have persuaded a jury to acquit him or spare his life.

Read the full story at LATimes.com.

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