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Thomas Martin THOMPSON





Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Rape
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: September 12, 1981
Date of birth: March 20, 1955
Victim profile: Ginger Lorraine Fleischli (female, 20)
Method of murder: Stabbing with knife
Location: Orange County, California, USA
Status: Executed by lethal injection in California on July 14, 1998

clemency petition

Thompson, Thomas Martin CDC# C91600        Sex: M
Alias: Young, Thomas 
Race: White 
Date Received: 08/23/1984 
DOB: 03/20/1955 
Education: 12 + 4 years 
Location: San Quentin State Prison 
Married: NA 

County of Trial: Orange  Sentence Date: 08/17/1984 
County of Residence: Unknown  County of Offense: Orange 
Offense Date: 09/11/1981  Court Action: Affirmed 
Court Date: 04/28/1988  Case #: C49758 


Ginger Lorraine Fleischli (female, age 20)


David William Leitch (male, CDC# D11422, sentenced to 15 years to life)


On Sept. 14, 1981, farm workers in a rural area of Irvine, in Orange County, discovered in a shallow grave the body of Ginger Lorraine Fleischli wrapped in a sleeping bag and a pink blanket, and secured with a rope. Ginger had been raped and stabbed with a knife five times in and around one ear. Her head was wrapped in duct tape, two towels, a sheet and her jacket. She had cuts on her wrists and ankles. Investigators linked offender Thomas Martin Thompson and crime partner David William Leitch to the murder.

On the evening of Sept. 11, 1981, Ginger had gone to a pizza parlor with Tracy Leitch, the offender, known to the party by the alias "Thomas Michael Young," and his crime partner, David Leitch, who was Tracyís ex-husband. Ginger had lived with the crime partner for a time after he had separated from Tracy, but at the time of her murder she and Tracy had been roommates for two weeks. The offender was living with his crime partner. The two males were planning a money-making scheme together.

When the group left the pizza parlor, Tracy and the crime partner gave the offender and Ginger a ride to a bar. At about 9:30 p.m., a man named Afshin Kashani joined Ginger and the offender at the bar and at about 1 a.m. the trio walked to the one-room apartment that the offender and his crime partner shared. The offender and Afshin smoked hash and Ginger left to get a soda at a nearby liquor store. While she was gone, the offender told Kashani that he wanted to have sex with Ginger that night. Kashani left the apartment before Ginger returned. When Ginger came back, the offender raped her. Then he killed her after she told him she would report the matter to the police.

Three days after her murder, Gingerís wrapped body was found. A single-edged knife, later determined to belong to the crime partner, had been thrust at least two inches into her ear. It had severed the carotid artery, causing massive bleeding and ultimately her death. Ligature marks on her wrists and ankles indicated that she had been bound or handcuffed during the night of the murder. Gingerís shirt and bra were cut in the front and pulled down to her elbows, completely exposing her breasts. She was not wearing any shoes, socks, or underwear. Her jeans were fully zipped but unbuttoned. A vaginal swab revealed semen consistent with Thompsonís blood type.

Gingerís blood was found in the offender and the crime partnerís apartment on the carpeting, padding and concrete underneath the carpeting. Fibers matching the blanket in which Ginger was wrapped were found in the trunk of the crime partnerís car. Additionally, a footprint matching that of the crime partner was found next to where Gingerís body was dumped.

The investigation suggested that the crime partner also wanted Ginger killed because he felt that she was interfering with his efforts to reconcile with his ex-wife. Tracy later said that on the night of the murder, Ginger asked her, "Do you think David [Leitch] would have Tom [Thompson] kill me?" Tracy also reported that people had told her the offender often carried a gun. She told investigators that "No one really knew Tom but everyone thought he was strange and weird."

After Gingerís murder, the offender and his crime partner fled to Mexico. The crime partner was arrested when he returned to the United States and Mexican authorities located the offender.

Thomas Martin Thompson was convicted of forcible rape and first degree murder with the special circumstance of murder during the commission of rape. He was sentenced to death by Orange County on Aug. 17, 1984.

Crime partner David Leitch was found guilty of second degree murder and was sentenced to 15 years to life on July 19, 1985.

(Information for this summary was compiled from the probation officerís report and/or other court documents from the offenderís file.)


At 11:48 p.m. July 13, 1998 Ė sixteen years and ten months after he raped and murdered Ginger Fleischi, Thomas Thompson was taken into San Quentinís execution chamber. The catheter to deliver the lethal injection was inserted into his arm, and the chamber door was shut at 11:54 p.m. Media witness entered at 11:58 p.m.; the curtains were opened one minute later. The execution by lethal injection began at 12:01 a.m. July 14. Thompson was pronounced dead at 12:06 a.m.

Thompsonís last meal included: Alaskan king crab with melted butter, spinach salad, pork fried rice, Mandarin-style spare ribs, hot fudge sundae and a six-pack of Coca Cola.

Following the execution Warden Art Calderon read Thompsonís last statement:

"For 17 years the AG has been pursuing the wrong man. In time he will come to know this. I donít want anyone to avenge my death. Instead I want you to stop killing people. God bless."


Name/DOC # Thomas Martin Thompson C-91600
Address San Quentin, CA/deceased
Date of Birth March 20, 1955
Race White
Date of Crime September 11, 1981
Age Time of Crime 26
Date Sentenced August 17, 1984
Victims Ginger Fleischli
Race of Victims White
Relationship to Defendant Acquaintance
Summary of Facts Alleged by State Thompson raped victim and then killed her to cover up rape
County of Trial Orange, CA
Trial Judge Robert Fitzgerald
Trial Attorney Ronald Brower
Prosecutors Michael Jacobs
Trial By Jury
Race of Jurors Unknown/not applicable
Convicted of First degree murder with rape special circumstance, rape
Confession Noóhe always maintained innocence
Accomplice Testimony None
Eyewitness Testimony The only eyewitness testimony, that of David Leitch, co-defendant, stating that victim had consensual sex with Thompson, was withheld by the State and later barred from review by the Anti-terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act
Forensic Testimony Very questionable evidence of rape presented by coroner and later successfully rebutted at Federal habeas evidentiary hearing
Jailhouse Snitch Yes: 4 used at preliminary hearing. These were later discarded and 2 new informants were used with new variation on the so-called confession
Defendant Testimony Yes: he admitted having consensual sex with victim, denied rape, and denied killing her
Principal Exculpatory Evidence Co-defendant's testimony that he saw victim and Thompson having consensual sex
Sentencing Authority CA Death Penalty Statute
Statutory Aggravating Factor No prior record
Non-Statutory Aggravating Factor  
Mitigating Factors No prior record

Evidence of Mental Illness Retardation and or Neurological Damage

Criminal History None
Appellate History Conviction affirmed in State court; Reversed and vacated in US District Ct.; Reinstated by 9th Circuit Ct. of Appeals-3 judge panel; Reinstated by USSC, not on merits but procedurally
Ineffective Assistance? Yes: found by US District Ct. and 9th Circuit En Banc
Police Misconduct? No
Prosecutorial Misconduct? Yes: found by 9th Circuit En Banc
Appellate Counsel Quin Denvir, Gregory Long, Andrew Love, William Arzbaecher

Thomas M. Thompson (California)


On July 14, 1998, the State of California, with the acquiescence of the federal government, executed Thomas Thompson by lethal injection. The state and federal governments not only failed to ensure Thompson's right to a fair and impartial trial, they intentionally disregarded a federal court ruling that Thompson's trial was unconstitutional. The unfair and unconstitutional trial resulted in Thompson's execution.


On September 11, 1981 Ginger Fleischli was stabbed five times in the head and killed in Orange County, California. Fleischli had spent the evening with her former lover, David Leitch, Leitch's new roommate, Thomas Thompson, and Leitch's ex-wife. Fleischli went home with Thompson to an apartment Thompson shared with David Leitch, and had consensual sex with him.

The next day, her body was found in a shallow grave. Both Leitch and Thompson were arrested and charged with Fleischli's murder, and Thompson was charged with rape. Thompson and Leitch were tried separately and convicted; Thompson was convicted of both murder and rape.

Salient Issues

  • Both the Federal District Court and the State Appeals Court threw out the rape conviction, which was the special circumstances that made Thompson eligible for the death penalty.

  • Both the Federal District Court and the State Appeals Court held that it was probable that Thompson would not have been convicted of rape or sentenced to death if his attorney had been competent.

  • Seven former prosecutors, including an author of California's death penalty law, filed a brief on Thompson's behalf in the U.S. Supreme Court, citing the prosecution's manipulation of witnesses and facts in Thompson's trial and expressing doubt about Thompson's conviction.

  • Evidence that Leitch, the other man convicted of the murder, witnessed Thompson and the victim engaging in consensual sex the night of the murder was revealed to state investigators and Leitch's trial counsel prior to Thompson's trial, and was reiterated by Leitch under oath at his parole hearing in 1995. This evidence, which was inconsistent with the prosecution's theory that Thompson had raped and then murdered the victim to cover up the rape, was suppressed by prosecutors and only discovered by a defense investigator in 1997.

  • An eleven-judge panel of the Federal Appeals Court found that the prosecutor manipulated evidence and witnesses in Thompson's trial and later, at Leitch's trial, presented evidence that discredited its own previous case against Thompson. It ruled Thompson's death sentence erroneous and his trial unconstitutional.

  • The U.S. Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the Appeals Court, ruling that the court, in a series of errors, took too long to reach the decision to vacate Thompson's death sentence.

  • The evidence that Thompson was innocent of the special circumstances that made him eligible for the death penalty was barred by the Ninth Circuit Court from consideration because of the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996.


Thomas Thompson and David Leitch were tried and convicted separately, by separate juries. The prosecutor and judge were the same at each of the trials. Thompson was tried first, in 1983.

At the preliminary hearing, the prosecution produced three jailhouse informants who testified that Thompson had confessed that he was hired by Leitch to help murder Fleischli, and after having consensual sex with her, Thompson had helped Leitch kill her. The prosecution subsequently rejected this theory and did not call these informants at trial.

At trial, the prosecution introduced a new theory - that Thompson had raped Fleischli and murdered her to cover up the rape. In this version of the murder, David Leitch solely helped Thompson dispose of Fleischli's body. The earlier testimony of the four jailhouse informants was discarded, and two new jailhouse informants testified that Thompson had confessed to the rape and murder.

Leitch had been arrested more than once for assault and had previously threatened to kill Fleischli, including ten days before she was murdered. Several defense witnesses, including a police officer, testified to Leitch's violent disposition, threats, and motive for the murder, but were discredited by the prosecution. The prosecution later used these same witnesses to convict David Leitch. Thompson was found guilty of both rape and murder, and because of the special circumstances of rape, was sentenced to death.


In March 1995, a federal court heard Thompson's appeal and reversed the rape conviction and the death sentence. The court found that there was no substantial evidence of rape or that Thompson had committed rape. The court also found that a competent attorney could have easily rebutted the circumstantial evidence used to convict Thompson and that Thompson's attorney was incompetent in failing to discredit a notoriously unreliable jailhouse informant.

The court declined to reverse Thompson's murder conviction because of stringent legal hurdles for overturning convictions. However, it urged the state not to re-try Thompson on the rape, stating that the numerous inconsistencies in the case left the court with an "unsettled feeling."

In 1996, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals re-instated the rape conviction and the death sentence, finding that the incompetence of Thompson's attorney would not have made a difference in the verdict. In May 1997, additional evidence surfaced concerning Thompson's rape conviction.

Two years earlier at a parole hearing, David Leitch testified that he had walked in on Thompson and Fleischli having consensual sex the night of the murder. Although Leitch said he gave this same information to police in 1981, he was never called to testify in Thompson's trial. Leitch's attorney corroborated that Leitch had always maintained Thompson and Fleischli had engaged in consensual sex. The parole board failed to pass this information on to Thompson's attorneys in 1994, although they were required to do so by law.

Based on this new information, Thompson's attorneys appealed his case again, asking for a hearing by the entire bench of judges of the Ninth Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals. Although the court initially denied the request, on August 3, 1997, an eleven-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals found that it had erred in denying the original request and acted on its own motion to reverse Thompson's rape conviction and vacate his death sentence.

The court disclosed a series of internal clerical and procedural errors that had caused Thompson's earlier appeal for a full bench hearing to be mistakenly denied. The federal panel found that the prosecution acted egregiously in Thompson's trial by manipulating witnesses and evidence, arguing inconsistent motives, and, at Leitch's trial, ridiculing its own theory of prosecution used to convict Thompson. Because Thompson's murder conviction was linked to the rape conviction, the court referred the case back to the District Court to re-examine the validity of the murder conviction.

The State of California challenged the decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals. In a 5-4 decision, the United States Supreme Court overturned the lower court's decision, upholding Thompson's rape conviction and death sentence.

The Court did this in spite of an unprecedented appeal by seven former prosecutors and an author of the California death penalty statute, which outlined substantial doubts about the prosecutor's conduct and about Thompson's guilt. The Supreme Court justified its decision based on the Anti-terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996.


Thomas Thompson was executed despite a U.S. Court of Appeals ruling that Thompson failed to receive a fair trial and that the original criminal trial was unconstitutional. Thompson's constitutional rights and international human rights were again violated by the direct actions of United State Supreme Court when it overturned the Court of Appeals decision despite overwhelming evidence of Thompson's innocence and compelling evidence that he failed to receive a fair and impartial trial.

Thompson was pronounced dead by injection at 12:06 a.m. for raping and killing 20-year-old Ginger Fleischli in 1981.

Thompson's case was unusual in that he was the 1st of the 5 men executed in California to claim innocence.

Prosecutors said Thompson raped Fleischli and then murdered her to stop her from reporting it.

"Let there be no mistake about this, Mr. Thompson is a guilty man," Attorney General Dan Lungren said a few hours before the execution.

But Thompson's attorneys said another man in the case claimed to have seen Thompson and Fleischli having what appeared to be consensual sex on the night of her death. The defense said that exonerated Thompson from the rape charge that made the killing a capital crime and also took away his motive for murder.

Saturday, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected that claim. His lawyers appealed to the Supreme Court on Monday but were turned down.

At 6 p.m., Thompson, who had seen visitors off and on during the day, was moved to the death watch cell.

"I was told he had become somewhat withdrawn towards staff as early as Saturday," said prison spokeswoman Joy Macfarlane.

Thompson ordered a last meal. His spiritual adviser, the Rev. Margaret Harrell, was to stay with him until shortly before his execution and then be taken to the execution room as a witness.

As the evening wore on, more than a hundred protesters gathered at the prison gates, holding candles and signs protesting the death penalty.

In the days leading up to the execution, Thompson's supporters had urged officials to take a closer look at the case, noting that he had had a clean record before the murder.

Thompson, 43, was convicted in 1983 of raping Fleischli and then plunging a knife into her head several times, with the fatal wound going 2 1/2 inches into her ear.

Fleischli's body was found beside a highway Sept. 14, 1981. She had been killed 2 days earlier in the apartment Thompson shared with her ex-boyfriend, David Leitch.

Thompson had come across Leitch while working on a far-fetched scheme to smuggle refugees out of Southeast Asia for gold. At his trial, prosecutors said Thompson killed Fleischli out of fear that a rape charge would derail his plans.

Thompson claimed he had consensual sex with Fleischli and then passed out, done in by a night of drinking and smoking hash. He said Fleischli was gone when he woke up.

Leitch, whose shoe print was found near the body, was convicted of 2nd-degree murder and is serving a sentence of 15 years to life.

Leitch has said that Fleischli was already dead when he returned to the apartment that night. But at a 1995 parole hearing, Leitch said he saw Thompson and Fleischli having what looked like consensual sex.

It was that statement on which Thompson's last claim hinged.

State attorneys pointed out that Leitch had changed his story several times.

Thompson also ran into a 1996 law limiting prisoners to 1 federal appeal unless there is a claim of new evidence clearly indicating innocence.

Thompson 1st appealed on the grounds that he had bad lawyers at his trial.

A federal judge agreed, reversing the rape conviction and overturning the death sentence.

A 3-judge panel of the 9th Circuit later reinstated the death penalty.

But just 2 days before Thompson's scheduled execution Aug. 5, the 9th Circuit decided to rehear the case.

6 hours before the scheduled execution, after Thompson had ordered his last meal and said his goodbyes, the 9th Circuit postponed the execution. It eventually overturned the death sentence.

The Supreme Court reinstated the death sentence in April, scolding the 9th Circuit for reopening the case at the last minute.

(Sources: Contra Costa Times and Rick Halperin.)


Thomas Martin Thompson

On 9/11/81, Ginger Fleischli went out for dinner, dancing and bar-hopping with David and Tracy Leitch, friends she had known for years, and Thomas Thompson, a newcomer to the group.

The crime took place in the Laguna Beach apartment Thompson shared with Leitch, who was Fleischli's former boyfriend. Three days later, her body was found dumped in a grove of trees in Irvine. She had been stabbed five times in the head, which was wrapped in duct tape, towels, a sheet and her jacket. Leitch's shoe print was found near Fleischli's body and he was convicted of second-degree murder.

A jury found that Thompson raped Fleischli and then killed her to keep her quiet. Jail inmates testified Thompson said he feared she would jeopardize a peculiar scheme he had dreamed up to smuggle refugees out of Southeast Asia for gold. He admitted having consensual sex with Fleischli but said he then passed out.

Thompson claims he is innocent and his lawyers say that Leitch, the victim's ex-boyfriend, is a likelier suspect. At Leitch's trial, Prosecutor Michael Jacobs told jurors that Leitch was also in the apartment and had the only motive for murder - anger that she had scuttled his chances of reconciling with his ex-wife.


Despite pleas, California inmate executed

July 14, 1998

SAN FRANCISCO (CNN) -- Convicted murder Thomas Thompson, who last year earned a stay of execution just hours before he was set to die, was executed Tuesday after the U.S. Supreme Court denied a last-minute appeal.

Thompson, 43, was pronounced dead by lethal injection at 12:06 a.m. (3:06 a.m. EDT) at San Quentin state prison near San Francisco for the 1981 rape and murder of 20-year-old Ginger Fleischli.

Hours before the scheduled execution, the court denied Thompson's appeal without comment or dissent.

More than a hundred demonstrators gathered outside the prison to protest the execution. Some held signs that read "Abolish the death penalty" or "Don't kill in our names."

The execution ended an appeals process by Thompson's lawyers that last year won him a stay. Thompson was so close to execution at that time he had ordered his last meal.

"This is a classic Catch-22 that will lead to the execution of an innocent man," his attorney Andrew Love said Sunday after the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco turned down his request for renewed consideration of the case.

Prosecutors say Thompson brutally raped and murdered Fleischli after a night of heavy drinking and smoking hashish at the Laguna Beach, California, apartment he shared with Fleischli's ex-boyfriend in 1981. He was convicted of both charges in 1983 and sentenced to die for the crime.

"Let there be no mistake about this, Mr. Thompson is a guilty man," Attorney General Dan Lungren said a few hours before the scheduled execution.

Claim of innocence rejected

Thompson's lawyers said they had evidence that the sex was consensual and that they suspect the former boyfriend, David Leitch, of committing murder.

The lawyers hoped the question of whether or not Thompson raped Fleischli would decide his life. If the rape conviction was overturned, Thompson's crime would not be considered a capital murder and he would not be eligible for the death penalty.

Last year the 9th Circuit agreed, deciding less than 36 hours before Thompson's scheduled execution that his rape conviction should be reversed and his life spared.

California appealed that decision to the U.S. Supreme Court, which issued a last-minute stay and said it would review the case.

The Supreme Court revisited the case in April and this time ruled against Thompson, saying the federal appeals court overstepped its authority by stopping his execution and that there was not enough evidence to back his claim of innocence.

Last Saturday, an 11-judge panel of the appeals court looked at the case again and came to the same conclusion, saying Thompson's legal team had failed to present "clear and convincing evidence" that he was not guilty.

Thompson has always said he passed out after having sex with Fleischli, and that when he awoke she was gone.

Leitch, Fleischli's former boyfriend, was convicted of second-degree murder for helping to bury the body and is serving a sentence of 15 years to life.

He has said that Fleischli was already dead when he returned to the apartment that night. But at a 1995 parole hearing, Leitch said he saw Thompson and Fleischli having what looked like consensual sex -- a statement on which Thompson's latest claims of innocence hinged.


Thomas Martin Thompson



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