Man Sentenced To Death For Third Time
David Murtishaw has now been sentenced to death for a third time in three Kern County desert slayings committed 25 years ago. Bakersfield Superior Court Judge Roger Randall said at Friday´s sentencing that Murtishaw carried out what the judge called “systematic slaughter of three innocent victims and the wounding of a fourth.” But Murtishaw´s attorney predicted their would be a fourth trial in the case. The defense contends the state did not have a death penalty because of U-S Supreme Court action at the time of the murders. The 44-year-old Murtishaw was first convicted and sentenced to death in 1979 for fatally shooting three University of Southern California film students north of Mojave. His sentence was reversed twice by the state Supreme Court and the federal court of appeals. But each time his murder convictions were upheld. The higher courts ruled in 1981 that testimony from a prosecution witness violated Murtishaw´s constitutional rights. And in June of last year the federal appeals court said a judge improperly instructed jurors. After his third penalty-phase trial a Kern County jury last month recommended Murtishaw be sentenced to death, again.