Two local women whose family was devastated by a 1981 murder said Monday old wounds were violently re-opened when the killer's sentence was overturned. Michael Hamilton was convicted of killing his pregnant wife Gwendolyn almost 30 years ago.
Last week a federal appeals court said authorities must convert his death penalty sentence to life in prison. But Gwendolyn's family says that's not good enough.
"I wish it was over already, I have my own family to take care of," said Gwendolyn Hamilton's daughter Julie who was 3 at the time of her mom's murder. Gwendolyn was 7 months pregnant when she was shot to death with a shotgun on the side of the road in Tulare. Twenty-nine years later, the pain is still fresh. Gwendolyn's family says they wish they could put her brutal murder behind them, but it's tough with yearly hearings and constant appeals.
The decision by the 9th District Court of Appeal in San Francisco, ''just opens more doors for Mike to present more evidence at more hearings,'' said Barbara Holmes, Gwendolyn's sister.
''Not that I'm afraid the verdict will be overturned, it's just, how long can my family go through reliving this?"
Kern County District Attorney Ed Jagels says he's not surprised by the court's decision. "Historically it has been the most pro criminal least public safety oriented court in the country. It is jam packed with extreme anti-death penalty judges," said Jagels. None the less, it was a shock to Gwendolyn's family who wants Hamilton to pay and for them to be given the chance to move on.
The Tulare County DA is waiting to hear if the 9th Circuit Court will take any further action on the case. If not it comes back to them and they have the opportunity to retry the penalty phase. http://www.kget.com/news/local/story/Twice-devastated-Family-reacts-to-death-sentence/DB97xbTz00iJkDoqXlFxkQ.cspx?rss=91