A death sentence handed down in 1997 to a robber who shot a merchant's son to
death during a $20,000 robbery in Tustin has been affirmed by the California
John Clyde Abel twiddled his thumbs and grinned as Judge Robert Fitzgerald
sentenced him to death for shooting Armando Miller to death Jan. 4, 1991, and
stealing $ 20,000 Miller had withdrawn from the bank.
Miller, 26, was shot once in the head in the parking lot of Sunwest Bank after
making a morning withdrawal for his family's check-cashing business, according
to an article in The Register. The money was never recovered.
The killing went unsolved until 1995, when an anonymous tip lead Tustin police
to Abel, who by then was serving a 45-year term for a series of robberies in
Los Angeles County.
Abel, who bragged to a girlfriend that he killed Miller, was convicted of
1st-degree murder during a robbery, a special circumstance that exposed him to
a death penalty. The same jury then decided that death was the appropriate
punishment for Abel, who admitted he had committed bank robberies in 1973 and
Miller's relatives and fiancé addressed Fitzgerald during sentencing and called
Abel, among other things, "a waste of human life."
Abel's appellate lawyers attacked those victim-impact testimonies and other
issues in their appeal.
But the state Supreme Court, in a unanimous decision released Monday, affirmed
the guilty verdict and the penalty verdict.
The decisions send the Abel case to the federal court system, where it could
take years to resolve.
Abel is one of 58 killers from Orange County on death row, and one of more than
700 inmates statewide. Nobody has been executed in California since 2006, and
there currently are no executions pending.
(source: Orange County Register)