Gerald Gallego's death sentence, for the murders of two teen-age California girls whose battered bodies were found in rural Nevada, has been upheld by the Nevada Supreme Court.
The court concluded Friday in its unanimous, 14-page opinion that Gallego was fairly tried, convicted and sentenced to death for beating Karen Chipman-Twiggs and Stacey Redican of Sacramento to death with a hammer in April, 1980.
Gallego's lawyer, Tom Perkins, had argued that Gallego was unfairly denied a venue change from the small town of Lovelock, Nev. Perkins had noted that front-page articles in the local newspaper there during Gallego's 1984 trial referred to Gallego as a sex slayer and convicted killer and added that accounts of Gallego's "sex slave fantasy" were broadcast in the area.
Despite the publicity, the court said it was convinced that jury selection in Gallego's case "yielded a jury panel committed to constitutional behavior."
Perkins had also said Gallego's former wife shouldn't have been allowed to testify as an accomplice. Charlene Williams Gallego testified that she lured the 17-year-old victims into the couple's van in the Sacramento suburbs and then drove to Nevada while Gallego raped the two in the back of the vehicle.
The court said Gallego was never legally married to Charlene, so her testimony was proper. The court added that there was enough evidence "to tie Gallego to the commission of the homicides without resort to Charlene's testimony."
The court also disagreed with Perkins that Gallego's death sentence was the result of "passion, prejudice or arbitrary behavior on the part of the jury." The court found no evidence of that, adding that a death sentence review shows it was not excessive or disproportionate in contrast with similar cases.