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killer's appeal denied

California
killer's appeal denied

The U.S. Supreme Court this week rejected the final appeal of a central California man who's spent 24 years on death row for killing a teenage girl who spread the word that his cousin was gay. Michael Morales and cousin Rick Ortega were arrested back in 1981, when Morales was 21 and Ortega was 19. They were charged with the rape, beating, and murder of 17-year-old Terri Lynn Winchell. Prosecutors in Lodi said Ortega wanted to kill Winchell out of jealousy and embarrassment. Winchell was dating his boyfriend and had told her friends that Ortega was gay. In 1983, both men were convicted. While Ortega got life without parole, Morales was sentenced to die. For nearly a quarter century, the case has wound its way up and down through the courts, as Morales challenged jury instructions and other aspects of his trial. The Lodi News-Sentinel reports that with Morales's journey through the legal system now at an end, his last hope is for Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to commute his sentence to life without parole. A hearing to schedule an execution date--probably sometime in March--will be held in the next 30 to 60 days. (Sirius OutQ News)

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