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January 14, 2006

Another deserved execution

The classic definition of "chutzpah" is murdering your parents and asking the court for mercy because you're an orphan.

In California, Clarence Ray Allen, who was denied clemency by Gov. Schwarzenegger, is asking the courts to block his execution because he's old and infirm -- even though he paid for contract murders of three people 25 years ago, when he was 50.

Schwarzenegger said Allen's age and health do not matter, noting that he committed his crimes at the age of 50. "His conduct did not result from youth or inexperience, but instead resulted from the hardened and calculating decisions of a mature man," the governor said.
It really warms my heart that the AP/Washington Post article I've quoted doesn't bother to describe the grotesque nature of the crimes. You have to search and find the story in the S.F. Chronicle.
While Schletewitz, Rocha and White began their routine of closing up the market for the night, Clarence Ray Allen, then 50, waited in his Folsom Prison cell to see if his plan of vengeance had been carried out.

He didn't know Rocha or White, but he wanted Bryon Schletewitz, Raymond Schletewitz and six others dead for testifying against him during his 1977 trial for the murder of Mary Sue Kitts, his son's 17-year-old girlfriend, authorities said.

Allen believed Kitts had gone to the Schletewitzes three years earlier and told them that he and a group of accomplices were responsible for a burglary at Fran's Market that year. Allen owned a security outfit, but he also plotted robberies and couldn't abide "rats," prosecutors said.

He ordered a hit on Kitts. The teen was strangled and thrown into the Friant-Kern Canal. Her body was never found.

Allen, who was sentenced to life in prison, planned to eliminate the prosecution witnesses so they wouldn't be around for his appeal. He contracted with inmate Billy Ray Hamilton, who worked with him in the prison's cafeteria and was soon to be paroled, to kill the eight people on his list.

So that September night, Hamilton and his girlfriend, Connie Barbo, lingered in Fran's Market until they were the last customers. Joe Rios, a teenager also working at the store that day, became suspicious of the two as he cleaned up the aisles. But it was too late.

Hamilton pulled out a sawed-off shotgun, and Barbo drew a .32-caliber revolver. They herded all the employees toward the stockroom and ordered them to lie on the floor.

Schletewitz volunteered to give the couple all the money they wanted, according to court records. He then led Hamilton into the stockroom. Once inside, Hamilton pointed the shotgun at Schletewitz's forehead and shot him from less than a foot away.

Hamilton came out of the room and turned to White, the records say. "OK, big boy, where's the safe?" Hamilton demanded. White responded, "Honest, there's no safe." Hamilton shot him in the neck and chest at point-blank range, according to court documents.

Rocha began crying. Hamilton shot her two or three times from about five feet away. The shots pierced her heart, lung and stomach.

Rios had managed to escape to the bathroom. Hamilton pushed his way in, stood three feet away and fired, according to the documents. Rios raised his arm just in time, and the shot entered his elbow, saving his life.

Jack Abbott, who lived next to the market, grabbed his gun and came outside when he heard the shots. He and Hamilton exchanged fire, and Hamilton fled after being shot in the foot. Police arrived and found Barbo hiding in the market.

Hamilton was arrested a week later after trying to rob a Modesto liquor store and now is on Death Row with Allen. A hit list containing names and addresses of the eight trial witnesses was found on him when he was arrested. It's what linked him to Allen, who has always denied ordering the killings.
It's finally time for justice to be done.