Stankewitz Evidentiary Hearing Set for January

By David M. Greenwald
Executive Editor

Fresno, CA – Judge Arlan Harrell set the Douglas “Chief” Stankewitz evidentiary hearing for January 22 through February 2 over the strong objections from Stankewitz’s counsel Curtis Briggs on Friday.

The latest prosecutor on the case has three trials and is not available prior to that time.

However, Briggs asked for November 13.  He noted that Stankewitz suffered a heart attack recently and then spent additional time in the hospital for blood clots.

He said he is very concerned about delays in this case, given that they have 30 witnesses, with many of them who are aging.  The case dates back to 1978.

Briggs expressed fear that if they delay hearings they will “lose a viable chance to litigate the case.”

Stankewitz was the longest serving person on death row before a court in 2016 removed him.  He was granted an evidentiary hearing last month based on new evidence, particularly evidence that the gun in evidence was not the murder weapon.

Chief Stankewitz Granted an Evidentiary Hearing as His Attorneys Attempt to Get Him a New Trial after 46 Years

When speaking with the Vanguard earlier this month, Briggs noted that there are two pieces of key evidence that Briggs believes they “can and will prevail on.”

The first is ineffective assistance of counsel (IAC) by the trial counsel. He said while there was serious prosecutorial misconduct, “we believe that an even semi-diligent defense attorney would have immediately noticed this at the trial court level. And we think that that’s the most realistic way we can prevail.”

Second is that they want the judge to look at the evidence that the gun was planted, that the original prosecutor had lied to the court, and was attempting to frame Stankewitz.

VANGUARD INVESTIGATION: New Evidence Reveals California’s Longest Serving Inmate on Death Row May Actually be Innocent

Briggs reiterated these points on Friday in arguing briefly for a reconsideration of bail.

He noted that between the new evidence, Chief’s good behavior over the last twenty years, his health concerns and viable innocence claims, he should be freed on bail.

Judge Harrell rejected it, arguing that there is “no change in circumstances.”

He did say, “This has gone on for awhile, but the end is in sight.”

He set the hearing for January 22 at 9 am in Department 62 of the Fresno Superior Court.

About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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