District Attorney Chesa Boudin has agreed to reduce the death sentence against Clifford Stanley Bolden, the last person from San Francisco on California death row.
Boudin announced today that his office has agreed to sentence Bolden to 47 years in prison. Under the terms of the agreement, Bolden, who is being held at the San Quentin State Prison, will avoid further legal challenges.
"In recent years, an increasing number of Americans – and San Franciscans – have recognized that the death penalty is not only undeniably cruel and incompatible with the values of a humane society, but also does not deter or prevent crime," said Boudin in a statement. "My office has not and will not apply for the death penalty, and I am pleased that we have been able to ensure that no one previously convicted in San Francisco remains on death row."
According to the prosecutor, Bolden had already spent more than 34 years in prison in 1986 for robbing and killing Henry Michael Pedersen.
This year, on September 9th, Pedersen was found dead in his bathtub by his neighbor. Cuts that, according to court documents, formed an L-shaped wound around the left breast. By identifying fingerprints at the scene, the police arrested Bolden just two days after the victim's body was discovered.
Officers found that Bolden had a double-edged knife in a black sheath on his leg that was covered by his pants and socks. The blood stain on the knife, according to court records, matched the victim's blood sample. The victim's brother also identified various items, including the camera and binoculars in Bolden's apartment, as those he had given to the victim.
A jury convicted Bolden of first-degree murder and robbery. After the jury found him guilty, she was sentenced to death in 1991.
Officials have now decided to sentence Bolden again for various reasons. For one, Governor Gavin Newsom imposed a death penalty moratorium to cut costs. And officials say reducing a death sentence to prison life saves up to $ 90,000 annually.
The jury that sentenced him to death also did not know that, according to the prosecutor, Bolden had schizophrenia when he committed his crime.
Court records show that Bolden was bullied by others in his childhood and rejected by his father for stuttering. His father was an alcoholic and Bolden would see his father beat his mother.
He was a veteran of the Marine Corps and suffered a knee injury while training for combat. After being assigned to a desk job, his behavior deteriorated rapidly and he was released from the Marine Corps.
In 1979 he was acquitted of Ronald Jenkins' murder and pleaded guilty to killing Ernest Cole with a machete, the San Francisco Examiner reports. In 1984, he made a short-lived escape from Folsom Prison that lasted 90 minutes. Five months after he was released from prison in 1986, the police arrested Bolden for the fatal knife stab of Pedersen, a 46-year-old accountant.
He was also accused of trying to escape San Francisco Prison in 1987 while awaiting Pedersen's murder trial.
Bolden can be released on parole at the age of 79.
Nancy Haydt, executive director of the nonprofit focus on capital punishment, said in a statement: "Settlements like this will ensure that criminals are serving substantial sentences, but have the opportunity to rehabilitate and re-enter society as reformed individuals."
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