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Jury recommends death penalty in Klaas murder

Davis

August 5, 1996
Web posted at: 6:17 p.m. EDT

SAN JOSE, California (CNN) -- A jury recommended Monday that Richard Allen Davis receive the death penalty for the 1993 slaying of 12-year-old Polly Klaas.

Davis smirked as the jury read its decision at 6:15 p.m. EDT (2215 GMT). Polly's father, Marc Klaas, clenched his fist in victory.

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"We're grateful for the verdict we got, because this is the verdict that is deserved," Klaas told reporters afterward. "Richard Allen Davis deserves to die for what he did to my child." (436K AIFF or WAV sound)

In June, the jury found Davis guilty of first-degree murder with special circumstances in Klaas' death.

He abducted Klaas from her bedroom during a slumber party nearly three years ago.

Klaas

Davis, 42, was found guilty on all counts in Santa Clara County Superior Court including robbery, burglary, kidnapping, false imprisonment, and attempted lewd conduct with a minor.

Under California law, a jury must conclude that a murder is accompanied by at least one such "special circumstance" for it to be a capital crime.

In the second, penalty-phase trial, jurors had a choice of recommending either life in prison without parole or death. The judge will later pass the formal sentence.

Davis had confessed

During the first trial, the jury heard Davis' videotaped confession to police shortly after his arrest in which he admitted he kidnapped and strangled Polly, but says he was "toasted" on drugs and alcohol at the time.

Davis said he was sorry for the slaying, but only after being prodded by police.

His attorneys denied that Davis sexually assaulted the girl -- her body was too decomposed to yield such evidence -- and Davis was not charged with that crime.

Polly Klaas

Davis took Polly at knife-point from her Petaluma home after tying up and gagging her and two friends the night of October 1, 1993. Polly's mother, Eve Nichol, was sleeping in a nearby room and didn't awaken.

Davis led police two months later to Klaas' strangled body, which was buried in a shallow grave near a freeway. The discovery distressed hundreds of residents who had launched a campaign to try to find the missing girl.

Klaas' kidnapping horrified the nation and was a driving force behind the passage of a California law that prescribes a life jail term for people convicted of a third felony crime.


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