San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon told reporters today that he would not seek the death penalty “in any case.”
The issue was raised by the Bay Area Reporter during a Q&A with reporters at a biannual press breakfast Gascon hosted at Delancey Street Restaurant.
Earlier this month, defendant William Payne pleaded not guilty to the 1983 murder of Nikolaus Crumbley. During a court appearance February 2, Assistant District Attorney Michael Swart said that the murder charge against Payne could be altered to reflect that it occurred during the course of sodomy, which would make Payne a candidate for the death penalty or life in prison without the possibility of parole if convicted.
At the time, Swart said he did not know if the DA’s office would alter the charge but said that if it became a capital case it would go before a committee in the DA’s office. The decision to seek the death penalty would ultimately be made by Gascon.
Thursday, Gascon was asked about the Payne case.
“We’re not going to be seeking the death penalty,” Gascon said.
Asked to clarify if he was just referring to the Payne case, Gascon said his office would not seek the death penalty “in any case.”
“It would be life without parole,” he said of the severest penalty his office would seek in applicable felony cases.
During his 2011 election campaign, Gascon said that he’s “not a believer” in the death penalty but did not specifically rule out applying it in cases.
The B.A.R. will have more on the Payne case in next week’s edition.