Death penalty dropped in AB109 murder case

April 29, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
Prosecutors took the death penalty off the table Monday in the murder case against a Fresno man accused of killing one woman, trying to kill another one, then attacking a police officer.

The murder happened less than eight months ago, but dozens of Sacramento lawmakers already know the story. And the victim's daughter says -- as painful as it is -- she'll keep telling it until the laws change to protect people from criminals like Michael Crockell.

This is the face that makes Katie Tempesta sick to her stomach. The face of Michael Crockell appears far different now than in September, when a confrontation with police left him bloodied and bruised.

Investigators say the 26-year-old stabbed Katie's mother, Lisa Gilvary, to death then turned the knife on Gilvary's roommate, and then a police officer.

"It makes me speechless to kind of talk about him, specifically," Tempesta said. "To see him is even worse. I mean, I just feel that he doesn't have any remorse."

Despite her feelings about the man accused of murdering her mother, Katie does speak about him. She's talked about him several times at the state Capitol, hoping to get California's prison realignment bill -- AB109 -- changed. You see, Crockell had a prior conviction for domestic violence. He was released from prison six months before the deadly attack and was on post-release community supervision instead of parole.

"The circumstances that realignment creates allow serious and violent offenders back out in our communities," said Lynne Brown, a spokesperson for the group Advocates for Public Safety. "It does create and can be proven to have created new homicide victims."

So far, Katie's story hasn't changed any minds in Sacramento. No bills to change AB109 have gotten out of committee. But Katie's not discouraged, and she'll keep telling stories about Michael Crockell and the crimes he's accused of committing to state lawmakers.

"They don't know what it's like," she said. "And that's why I want to make a change. And that's why I want to do something about this, because I don't want anybody to become a victim like I have. Or, a survivor, I should say."

There's a committee vote Tuesday on a bill from assembly member Connie Conway, (R) Tulare. It would at least keep registered sex offenders under parole supervision when they get out of prison.

Meanwhile, prosecutors agreed to drop a special circumstance against Crockell Monday, meaning he won't be facing the death penalty at trial.

Crockell's attorney tells Action News his client will probably plead "not guilty by reason of insanity" when it comes time for trial.

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