Esparza v. Anderson

In 1983 Esparza shot and killed Melanie Gerschults during the armed robbery of a Toledo restaurant, during which $110 was taken from the cash register. Another employee escaped and sought help. At trial, a fellow inmate and a sibling testified that Esparza had confessed. During the penalty phase, Esparza’s lawyers focused on his troubled youth. He was sentenced to death. After Ohio state courts refused to alter his sentence, Esparza unsuccessfully sought federal habeas relief. The Supreme Court reversed in 2003. On remand, the district court reconsidered and rejected Esparza’s claims and granted him a certificate of appealability on ineffective-assistance and continuance claims. The Sixth Circuit affirmed; Ohio courts reasonably rejected his claims. Essentially, Esparza argued that his lawyers developed too much bad evidence at the penalty phase of his trial and not enough good. Esparza failed to show prejudice in his denial-of-continuance claim. The court stated that its “decision is not necessarily the end of the road for Esparza. Among other things, he has the right to file a clemency application with the governor to reduce his sentence from death to life in prison. In light of the many uninvited difficulties in his childhood, this application may be worth a serious look.” View "Esparza v. Anderson" on Justia Law