In 1984, 25-year-old babysitter Linda Faye Rodgers was found half-naked and strangled to death in a Santa Ana home.
A few months later, officials arrested Kenneth Clair on charges of burglary, murder and torture in the case.
In 1987, an Orange County jury convicted him of first-degree murder and sentenced him to death. Clair's attorneys would eventually argue, however, that the prosecutors unethically interjected race into the trail.(Clair is black and Rodgers was white.)
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By 1992, as the case still meandered its way through the system, the state's Supreme Court rejected the racial prejudice claims and upheld the death sentence. Then in 2005, Clair asked for a new attorney, but a federal judge denied it. In an OCRegister story from 2008, prosecutors revealed that DNA recovered from the crime scene wasn't a match to Clair.
Today, the case is in front of the Supreme Court. Clair wants to fire his attorney, according to a KPCC story, because he claims that he hired a private investigator who found new evidence in the case, but that his lawyer "didn't try to obtain it, analyze it or present it to the court."
Laurie Levenson, a law professor at Loyola, told KPCC that the law is somewhat murky about whether someone awaiting the death penalty can fire their lawyer.
In a piece about Clair's case yesterday, the New York Times opines: "The court should not use this narrow case to limit the ability of defendants to get the representation they need."