Cal.Sup.Ct.; S056766 The California Supreme Court affirmed a guilty verdict but reversed as to a sentence of death. The court held that the trial court erred in dismissing three jurors for cause based on their opposition to the death penalty without inquiring as to whether they would be able to set aside their personal views in order to follow the law. During a month-long crime spree in Los Angeles County, Richard Leon committed a string of armed robberies, murdered two store clerks, and was eventually arrested after a high-speed chase. He was charged with two counts of murder, multiple counts of robbery, and other crimes. The special circumstances of robbery murder and multiple murder were alleged. He was tried before a jury. In response to written questions about their views on the death penalty, prospective jurors R.C., N.C., and D.A. gave similar responses. All expressed opposition to the death penalty. All three further indicated that if the case reached the penalty phase, they would automatically vote for life imprisonment without parole. However, immediately after disclosing their inclination to vote against the death penalty, all three jurors answered "yes" to questions asking if they would change their answers on automatic voting if instructed to set aside personal feelings and weigh aggravating and mitigating evidence before voting on penalty.
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