Governor's Bid to Keep Killer in Prison OKd

TIMES STAFF WRITER

The state Supreme Court Friday granted Gov. Gray Davis' request to keep convicted murderer Robert Rosenkrantz behind bars at least temporarily while he wages a legal fight to win parole.

The high court granted the stay until Tuesday while it seeks additional information from the parties.

The ruling comes a day after a Los Angeles County Superior Court judge ruled that Davis unlawfully denied Rosenkrantz's parole and ordered his release from prison.

State lawyers immediately appealed to the appellate court, which earlier Friday rejected their request. They then went to the state Supreme Court and won.

Rosenkrantz, 34, was convicted of second-degree murder in 1985 for shooting to death a fellow student who exposed Rosenkrantz as gay. He was sentenced to 17 years to life in prison, and was recommended for parole in 1996. But Davis blocked his release, leading to the lawsuit alleging the governor illegally denied paroles to all convicted murderers.

Before the Supreme Court's action, Rosenkrantz's attorney, Donald Specter, said he asked the warden at the Men's Penal Colony in San Luis Obispo to release his client.

"We believe they should let him go right now," said Specter, an attorney with the Prison Law Office in San Quentin.

On Thursday, a department spokesman said prison officials would not begin processing Rosenkrantz, of Calabasas, for release until the request for a stay was resolved.

Judge Paul Gutman ruled Thursday that Davis had produced no evidence that Rosenkrantz represented a continued threat to society. The judge, in his 25-page ruling, said Davis has demonstrated "prejudgment of all murder cases," thereby depriving Rosenkrantz "of his right to an impartial decision maker."

Also Thursday, Barry Goode, the governor's legal secretary, denied that Davis has a no-parole policy.

"Gov. Davis gives each case careful scrutiny," he said. "He determines each on its own merits and will continue to do so."

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