A man whose sister was brutally raped and murdered in a Lodi vineyard 30 years ago has filed a lawsuit in an attempt to move forward the execution of his sister's convicted killer.
Bradley Winchell, of Stockton, is looking to push Michael Angelo Morales' execution forward. Morales, who currently sits on death row, has had his execution delayed through a series of legal claims that have been used to halt lethal injections for all California death-row inmates.
Winchell has filed a 44-page suit with the Third District Court of Appeal, demanding the court to require state prison officials to endorse a lethal injection single-drug protocol, the Criminal Justice Lethal Foundation announced Thursday.
That protocol is also used in Ohio, Washington and Arizona. This protocol would end the six-year delay on Morales' execution, the press release stated.
In 1983, Morales, now 52, was convicted of the rape and murder of Winchell's 17-year-old sister, Terri Winchell, who also was from Stockton.
Between 1983 and 2005, Morales' conviction and sentence were reviewed and upheld multiple times in both state and federal courts, and the United States Supreme Court refused to refute those decisions twice.
"This delay and denial of justice is entirely unnecessary," said Kent Scheidegger, the foundation's legal director, in the press release. "The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation has ample authority to resume executions promptly."
Morales' lawyer could not be reached for comment Friday.
Morales' scheduled February 2006 execution was stayed by a federal judge considering Morales' claim that California's three-drug lethal injection process was unconstitutional.
In 2007, a Marin County Superior Court judge, in an unprecedented ruling, announced that Morales' execution could not proceed until the lethal injection protocol was approved by the court to be in line with rules set forth in the state's Administrative Procedures Act.
The act states that a person can petition a state agency to change a state regulation. These changes include the adoption of a new regulation or the amendment or repeal of an existing one, such as the law regarding lethal injection.
"At any point in this process, the (California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation) could have announced a one-drug protocol, encouraged by the federal judge who had been reviewing California's three-drug protocol, and gone forward with the execution of Morales and several other murderers on death row," Scheidegger said. "The purpose of the action we have initiated today is to secure a judgment ordering the state to stop sitting on its hands and do its job."
In a press conference on Thursday, Winchell said he was sick to his stomach from having to wait so long to bring his sister's murderer to justice.
He said he no longer drives through Lodi because of the pain and suffering his family has had to go through.
"I am asking this court to set it right," Winchell said. "I consider 31 years excessive delay, injury not only to myself but my family."
Contact reporter Katie Nelson at email@example.com.