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Polly Klaas’ father says California killer’s bid to overturn death sentence was ‘a travesty of justice’

Polly Klaas’ father says California killer’s bid to overturn death sentence was ‘a travesty of justice’
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Marc Klaas, Polly Klaas’ father, described her convicted killer’s bid to overturn his death sentence as a “travesty of justice.”

“I couldn’t have been happier. … It was exactly what I wanted to hear,” Klaas told Fox News Digital of a California judge’s Friday decision to reject Richard Allen Davis’ request for a resentencing. “I thought the judge was fantastic. I thought Judge Williams did exactly what he needed to do, and he put a stop to this. … I don’t think he wanted to be the guy who threw himself on the third rail of Richard Allen Davis. This is a guy that’s not going to benefit anybody by giving him a resentencing.”

Richard Allen Davis, who is locked up at San Quentin State Prison, was sentenced to death in 1996 for abducting 12-year-old Polly – now known as the first missing girl on the internet – from a sleepover at knifepoint and then strangling her to death in 1993.

Sonoma County Judge Benjamin Williams on Friday morning rejected Davis’ petition to overturn his death sentence. The murderer was allowed a resentencing hearing nearly 30 years after his conviction under Gov. Gavin Newsom’s 2019 decision to halt the death penalty in the state. Under Newsom’s moratorium, no one in California can be executed while he is governor.


Richard Allen Davis mugshot

Richard Allen Davis, who is imprisoned at San Quentin State Prison, was sentenced to death for kidnapping Polly from a sleepover at knifepoint and then strangling her. (Klaas Kids)

“It’s a it’s a travesty of justice, quite frankly. Twenty-eight years ago, he was sentenced to death, and this was over,” Klaas said. “Now I’m completely fine with the system that exists. I’m fine with the appeals process. If they had found a reason through any of the appeals why he should be resentenced … I would have been disappointed, but I would have understood it. This is something completely different.”

“This is a brand-new law that retroactively reaches into the bowels of time and changes sentences for anybody for which a special circumstance was a factor in the sentencing.”

— Marc Klaas

Davis invaded a slumber party at Polly’s mother’s home in Petaluma, California, where he bound, tied and blindfolded Polly’s two friends before kidnapping the 12-year-old girl.


Polly Klaas poses near a tree

Polly Klaas’ disappearance, which made headlines across the country in newspapers and on television, became known as the first high-profile missing persons case to circulate on the internet in 1993, when computers were just beginning to take off. (Polly Klaas Foundation)

The Sonoma County District Attorney’s Office rejected Davis’ request for a resentencing from the get-go and was ultimately successful in convincing the judge to preserve his death sentence. The DA’s office issued a statement Friday after Williams’ decision, noting that Davis’ conviction was previously upheld in 2009 after he appealed.

“The only one that benefits from any of this stuff that’s going on in criminal justice in California are the criminals.”

— Marc Klaas

Senate Bill 483 allows defendants with one-year enhancements for prior convictions to request recalls and resentencings. Davis requested a full resentencing, including a new jury trial on the death penalty, based on the two-year enhancements in his case, but a court ultimately objected to his request after an April hearing, the DA’s office said.

Polly Klaas

Marc Klaas said the growth of the internet and social media has “changed the way that the public and law enforcement approach missing kids.” (Polly Klaas Foundation)

“We are pleased with the court’s ruling as we believe the remedy sought by the defense at this hearing far surpassed what the legislature intended in enacting SB 483. Unfortunately, this ruling is strictly limited to capital murder sentences. Any existing prison sentence in California, whether it involved non-capital murder, rape, torture, or child sexual assault, is still at risk if it includes the one-year prison prior,” District Attorney Carla Rodriguez said in a Friday statement.

Rodriguez continued, “Even more troubling, this specific legislation is not an outlier, but part of a larger push by many members of our current legislature to undermine sentences and convictions handed down by courts and juries over decades. While I genuinely believe in the importance of thoughtful criminal justice reform, too often these days what we see coming out of Sacramento is simply short-sighted. Our victims, and the families of our victims deserve better.”

Marc Klaas outside a courthouse

Marc Klaas, Polly Klaas’ father, stands outside Santa Clara County Superior Court in San Jose, California, on May 31, 2024. (AP Photo/Nic Coury)

Klaas says he made a public records request with the state of California to determine how many other convicted criminals in the state would be eligible to request a resentencing under Newsom’s 2019 law. He received more than 9,000 names in response to his request. Now, Klaas wants other victims’ families to know that they could go through the same process.

Newsom’s office previously directed Fox News Digital to comments the governor made when he issued the moratorium in March 2019, when 737 people were on death row in California.


Polly Klaas

Polly Klaas was kidnapped at knifepoint from a sleepover and strangled to death in 1993. (Polly Klaas Foundation)

“The intentional killing of another person is wrong and, as governor, I will not oversee the execution of any individual,” Newsom said in a statement at the time. “Our death penalty system has been, by all measures, a failure.”


“It has discriminated against defendants who are mentally ill, black and brown or can’t afford expensive legal representation. It has provided no public safety benefit or value as a deterrent. It has wasted billions of taxpayer dollars. Most of all, the death penalty is absolute. It’s irreversible and irreparable in the event of human error.”

Richard Allen Davis in court

Richard Allen Davis is shown in Sonoma County Municipal Court in Santa Rosa, California, on Dec. 7, 1993. (Paul Sakuma/File)


A press release from Newsom’s office noted that California is one of four states that have issued moratoriums on the death penalty, including Pennsylvania, Colorado and Oregon. Since 1978, California has spent $5 billion on the death penalty system and executed a total of 13 people, according to the release.

Polly’s disappearance, which made headlines across the country in newspapers and on television, also became known as the first high-profile missing persons case to circulate on the internet in 1993, when computers were just taking off.

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