Saturday, 02 March 2024

Judge sets April hearing date in Stanley case

LAKE COUNTY – Lake County's District Attorney asked a Butte County judge Thursday to grant his motion to move forward with a retrospective competency hearing in a 1980 murder conviction.


District Attorney Jon Hopkins went before Judge Sandra McLean in the case of Gerald Frank Stanley, 63, who was sentenced to death in 1984 for the murder of his wife, Cynthia Rogers Stanley.


On March 17 a federal judge – citing juror misconduct – threw out the competency trial that was held in late 1983 as part of Stanley's original prosecution after questions of his mental state were raised, as Lake County News has reported.


Hopkins asked Judge McLean for a hearing on the feasibility of retrospective competency proceedings; at the same time, he's planning to file a request for a change of venue in order to move the case back to Lake County. The trial was moved in 1983 because of pretrial publicity, he explained.


McLean granted Hopkins' request for a hearing on his motions, which is scheduled for 11 a.m. April 24 in Oroville, Hopkins said.


Stanley, based on a removal order filed by Hopkins, was transported from San Quentin State Prison's death row to the Butte County Jail in Oroville.


Hopkins said Stanley appeared in court Thursday, after having spent the morning fighting with jail nurses over his medications. Stanley has previously stated to this reporter that he suffers from a variety of health complaints, including heart issues.


Upset over the issues with his care at the jail, Stanley made demands to the court that he be transported back to San Quentin, said Hopkins.


When it came time to appoint a defense attorney for Stanley in these current proceedings, Stanley requested Mark Olive, according to Hopkins.


Olive, a Florida attorney who has specialized in defending death penalty cases for 30 years, has previously worked on Stanley's defense team, although Stanley has stated in the past that he did not want Olive and other federal defenders to act on his behalf.


Hopkins said Olive wasn't present at the Thursday hearing, although two federal defense attorneys were present. McLean appointed Chico attorney Dennis Hoptowit to represent Stanley.


While his mental competency has been questioned, Stanley's guilt in the murder was upheld in the recent ruling and in a California Supreme Court ruling, according to court documents.


In the original trial, Stanley was ruled competent and sentenced to the gas chamber. He has remained on death row since February of 1984.


If a retrospective competency hearing were held and Stanley was found incompetent at the time of his original trial's penalty phase, he would no longer face the death penalty and instead would serve out the remainder of his life behind bars without the possibility of parole, according to Hopkins.


E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


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