Californians debate death penalty as vote nears

Survey Voteoriginally by:
published: 4 September 2012

Sharron Mankins, McGregor Scott and Bill Babbitt each have watched a man die inside the death chamber at San Quentin State Prison, and each has a strong view on whether voters should end California’s death penalty in November.

Even after 20 years, Mankins has no regrets about watching Robert Alton Harris die by cyanide gas for the 1978 murders of her 16-year-old son, Michael Baker, and his friend John Mayeski.

“We saw justice served,” the 69-year-old Southern California woman said in an interview last month. “It took a long time, but it helped us all. I think it helped the whole family.”

Scott, who witnessed the lethal-injection execution of Darrell Rich in March 2000 as the Shasta County district attorney, remembers the event with almost clinical precision.

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