Judge Denies Bid by Polly Klaas' Murderer to Throw Out Death Sentence

Richard Allen Davis was sentenced to death for the 1993 murder and kidnapping of 12-year-old Polly Klaas in 1996

<p>AP Photo/File</p> Polly Klaas

AP Photo/File

Polly Klaas

A California judge has denied convicted killer Richard Allen Davis’s motion to recall his death penalty sentence.

At a hearing on May 31, Judge Benjamin Williams denied Davis's motion, according to a press release reviewed by PEOPLE.

"I am immensely grateful to the Sonoma County District Attorney’s Office, especially Deputy District Attorney Sarah Brooks, for zealously advocating for justice for my daughter Polly, and Judge Benjamin Williams for rightfully denying this latest ridiculous motion filed by Polly’s murderer," Polly's father, Marc Klaas, said in the press release.

Last month, Davis’s attorneys had asked a judge in Santa Clara County Superior Court to resentence the convicted killer, NBC Bay Area reported. The request came after a 2022 criminal justice reform law came into effect that invalidated some sentencing enhancements, the San Jose Mercury News reported.

Davis was sentenced to death in 1996 for the 1993 murder and kidnapping of 12-year-old Polly Klaas. Polly was abducted from her home in Petaluma, Calif., where she was having a slumber party with two 12-year-old classmates. Her strangled body was found in a wooded area about 50 miles away two months later.

Her kidnapping sparked a nationwide search with thousands of volunteers and made her a household name.

Related: Everything to Know About the Polly Klaas Murder Case 30 Years After Her Remains Were Discovered

<p>AP Photo/Ben Margot</p> Richard Allen Davis

AP Photo/Ben Margot

Richard Allen Davis

After Polly's death, foundations were formed in her honor, including The Polly Klaas Foundation, which raises awareness of child abductions and has helped “more than 10,000 families find their missing children,” according to its website. Marc Klaas also founded the KlaasKids Foundation, which “promotes prevention programs for at-risk youth, stronger sentencing for violent criminals and governmental accountability and responsibility.”

Polly’s murder helped prompt California voters in 1994 to adopt the “three strikes and you’re out” law, which called for increased prison sentences for repeat offenders like Davis. The law was later modified because it unfairly targeted communities of color and incarcerated people for non-serious and non-violent offenses.

Davis was convicted of her killing in 1996 and sent to San Quentin’s death row.

In 2022, a law, which was enacted to help address overcrowding in California’s prison, was passed that would invalidate some criminal penalty enhancements such as for some prior convictions for nonviolent and drug convictions.

Davis' lawyers argued that Davis was entitled to have four of his felony convictions and three previous prison terms invalidated, according to the Mercury News.

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The Sonoma County District Attorney’s Office had said Davis was not entitled to challenge his death penalty conviction.

“If my family can be subjected to the possible recall of capital sentence of a condemned murderer who, prior to murdering Polly, had multiple convictions for violence towards women and was diagnosed as a sexually sadistic psychopath, then any victim’s family who thought that justice was served in the courtroom is in for a shocking new reality,” Marc Klaas said in a statement in April. “If Polly’s killer is somehow able to prevail, this is the tip of the iceberg. Thousands of violent offenders will follow suit, so lock your doors, protect your children, and pray that your family does not fall prey to the violence and destruction that is sure to follow.”

Last month, State Senator Ben Allen, who introduced the law, issued a statement saying that Davis was “allowed to make whatever wild legal assertion he wants, but our law was definitely not designed to undo the death sentences of condemned child killers like him and any attempt to argue otherwise is off-base,” he said, per NBC Bay Area. “… This a desperate act by a despicable man."

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