Serial murder. Connected to 13 slayings of elderly
women since 1980.
He was linked to a series of slayings and brutal
attacks on elderly women that frightened communities across Northern
California. He was sentenced to death for the Aug. 13 1987 beating of
Ruth Constantine, 73, of San Leandro.
Franklin Lynch After 18 Years
A Serial Killer's Day In Court Arrives
May 23, 2010
The "Day Stalker" serial killer who preyed on
elderly women and terrorized the East Bay in the summer of 1987 will
appear before the California Supreme Court this week to plead for his
life — 18 years after his death sentence.
As long a time as that may seem, it's neither an
extreme in California's logjammed capital punishment system, nor much
more than a first step.
But it has been a long time to wait for the
families of the three women — Pearl Larson, 76; Adeline Figuerido, 89;
and Anna Constantine, 73 — since Franklin Lynch was convicted of
murdering while robbing their San Leandro homes in the summer of 1987.
Lynch also was convicted of robbing two other Hayward-area women.
Though Lynch was sent to San Quentin State Prison's
death row in April 1992, the opening brief in his automatic, direct
appeal — bypassing the Court of Appeal, straight to the state's
highest court — wasn't filed until 2004, with the state's response a
year later and his reply in 2007.
Lynch, already suspected in a string of robberies
and homicides, was the subject of a manhunt a month before the first
of the three slayings for which he would eventually be convicted. FBI
agents arrested him in Los Angeles in October 1987.
Pam Figuerido, of Fremont, wife of Adeline
Figuerido's grandson, Gary, said the family had been told when Lynch
was sentenced that it would probably be about 14 years until his
"We thought, 'Fourteen years, what a waste of the
taxpayers' money,'" she said. "And we're still paying for him to sit
here after he has murdered? It was vicious, what he did to this woman,
and we're letting him live his life?"
Even Michael Ciraolo, one of Lynch's trial
attorneys, thought it unusual: "Eighteen years, is that some kind of
It's not, according to the state Administrative
Office of the Courts; other cases have waited longer.
Records show it was in 1997 — more than five years
after Lynch's sentencing — that the State Public Defender's Office was
named to represent him, and it was two years later that his lawyers
made a motion to correct, complete and settle the trial record; the
full record, about 17,000 pages, wasn't filed until 2002. Lynch tried
to fire the State Public Defender's Office in 2003, but his motion was
denied. Between each event, the court granted request after request
for more time.
In his 481-page appeal brief, Lynch cites a litany
of reasons why his conviction should be overturned, including that the
trial judge erred: by not letting him fire his attorneys and represent
himself; in removing four prospective jurors who said they would have
trouble reaching a death verdict; and in refusing to sever the crimes
into separate trials so jurors would have to weigh them separately
rather than aggregating them. He also claims that he wasn't
represented by counsel at a police lineup in which he was identified
by witnesses, and that a prosecutor made an improper, prejudicial
statement to the jury during closing arguments, as well as that
California's death-penalty law is unconstitutional and violates
The state Attorney General's Office refutes all
this, arguing that the trial judge didn't err or abuse his discretion;
jurors were properly excused; Lynch had two lawyers at the police
lineup; his absence from certain hearings, even if in error, was
harmless; and so on.
Alameda County assistant district attorney Jim
Anderson at trial had called Lynch a "human reptile" and a "murder
machine." Now retired, Anderson noted that besides this direct appeal
Lynch also has pending before the state Supreme Court a habeas corpus
case: a reinvestigation of the whole case in which new evidence can be
brought in or existing evidence can be recast. When that's done, he
can file a habeas corpus case in federal court, too.
"We're looking probably at another 15 years.
What a joke," Anderson said. "Once again it just shows you how the
California Supreme Court and the 9th Circuit have slowed things down
to make the death penalty an absolute farce in California."
Meanwhile, the Figueridos keep waiting.
A forensic pathologist testified at Lynch's trial
that Adeline Figuerido died from as many as a dozen blows to the head,
neck and face, suffering a brain hemorrhage and numerous broken bones.
Her daughters found her on the dining-room floor, her hands tied
behind her back and a blanket tied around her head.
"Something like this never goes away, the whole
situation was a nightmare," Pam Figuerido said. "You can't get the
image out of your mind of her lying on the autopsy table, seeing what
he did to her. You don't even treat animals like that."