Skip to comments.CALIFORNIA: Teen's killer slated to be executed Feb. 21 [Michael Morales]
Posted on 01/19/2006 10:45:33 AM PST by SmithL
A judge set a Feb. 21 execution date Wednesday for a Stockton man convicted of murdering a 17-year-old girl in 1981. It would be California's third execution in three months.
Michael Morales lost his final court appeal in October when the U.S. Supreme Court refused to review his case. He can still seek clemency from Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Morales, now 56, was convicted of choking, beating and stabbing Terri Winchell to death in a remote area of San Joaquin County in January 1981. Prosecution witnesses said a cousin of Morales, Ricky Ortega, had learned Winchell was having an affair with Ortega's male lover and asked Morales to kill her. Ortega was sentenced to life in prison.
Morales' lawyer, David Senior, has said his client is remorseful for the crime. But he also says Morales was sentenced to death largely because of a jailhouse informant's testimony that Morales had bragged about the murder, which Senior says is false.
(Excerpt) Read more at sfgate.com ...
Buh Bye, Michael!
So then everyone will confess to everything in their jail cell and then nothing confessed to is allowed in court? I don't think so.
25 years after the fact.
Seems CA has opened that express lane!
Hey Mikie, tick tick tick tick, just a matter of time pal, another one bites the dust. Hot diggity, I wish MA had the death penalty, nice to see these scumbags getting what they deserve.
California finally has some momentum going... let's all hope they keep up the pace.
I was thinking the same thing. This is one way to open up some cells. I'm just waiting for CourtTV to go 24/7 with it. (/s)
More 11th-hour argle-bargle. We're going to have to put up with this clatter every time we try to flush another piece of flotsam. If California would get into the same groove as Texas, these executions wouldn't even make the front page.
Why all the sudden surge in CA's death row? Who grew a pair?
Man, we're keeping San Quentin cooking..... If we keep this up, we're going to be giving Texas a run for its money....
"He can still seek clemency from Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger."
Well, all the best to ya!
Any outrage from Austria on the latest one, or are mass protests and anger reserved for minorities?
We are so backlogged! It should be 300 in three months.
Say goodnight Michael.
The Murder and Investigation
Seventeen year-old Terri Winchell disappeared on a Thursday
evening, January 8, 1981. Her mother lay sick in bed.
Terri was getting ready to go out to pick up some food at a
local restaurant. Before she left, she got a telephone call
around 5:15 p.m. from Rick Ortega, a young man she knew
through her friends.
She spoke with him, then called her best
friend Glenda Chavez. Terri told Glenda Chavez that Rick
Ortega had asked her to go with him to the mall to pick out
a present for his new girlfriend. Driving her mothers car, she
left to pick up the food, telling her mother she would be right
back and would be back within the hour.
Hours passed. Terris mother became increasingly worried. She called the
police to report that her car was missing around 10:00 that
night, and reported that Terri was missing at 8:00 a.m. the
That day, Friday, the police interviewed Terri Winchells
mother, Terris best friend Glenda Chavez, and Terris friend
Christine Salaices. They also interviewed Terri Winchells
boyfriend Randy Blythe.
The interviews led the police to Rick Ortega, whom they
interviewed at a police station Friday night. Ortega gave the
police permission to search his house and car, and they did,
starting just before midnight Friday night. They found Ortegas
shoes, which were wet, and noted that the tires and
undercarriage of his car were also wet. The police found
blood splattered all over Ortegas car, which smelled of
ammonia. The officers returned to the station house around
1:00 a.m, Saturday morning. Around 2:00 a.m., Ortega led the
police to a vineyard on the outskirts of town where they found
Terri Winchells body.
Terri was found naked except for a shirt and bra, which
were pulled up over her breasts. She had suffered six blows
to the side of her head and seventeen blows to the back of her
head. The base of her skull had been shattered. Her skull,
cheek bones, and jaw were fractured. She had been stabbed
four times in the chest. Her face and body were severely
bruised and much of the skin of her front side was torn up.
She had multiple wounds on her hands and forearms, typical
of a person defending herself.
Michael Morales was Ortegas cousin. He lived in Pat Floress
The police came there the next morning, Satur-
day, with a search warrant. They found a claw hammer, not
in a toolbox or tool drawer, but in the vegetable crisper in the
refrigerator. Blood was found on the hammer, but there was
not enough to get a blood type. They found a kitchen knife
with the tip broken off in a kitchen cabinet. In a bedroom,
they lifted the mattress off the box spring and found hidden
between them a broken belt, which had blood on it consistent
with Terris. A wet towel smelling of ammonia was in a
wastebasket. In another bedroom, they found a large kitchen
knife on a night stand, and Terri Winchells purse in the
Morales was arrested and tried and convicted for rape and
murder. So was Ortega, but his separate case is not before us.
B. The Trial
The government tried Morales on three theories of first
degree murder murder with premeditation, murder by torture,
and murder by lying-in-wait and two special circumstances
intentional killing by torture and intentional killing
by lying in wait. The prosecution theorized that Rick Ortega
wanted to kill Terri Winchell out of jealousy, because Ricks
male lover, Randy Blythe, was also Terri Winchells boyfriend.
Also, Terri had embarrassed Ortega by calling him a
homosexual to her friends. Ortega recruited his cousin
Michael Morales to help him kill her, and Morales agreed out
of family loyalty.
Randy Blythe, Terris boyfriend, testified at Moraless trial
that he had indeed been in sexual relationships with both Rick
Ortega and Terri Winchell. His relationship with Rick Ortega
came first, though it was not entirely over when he became
Terri Winchells boyfriend.
Ricks former girlfriend Christine Salaices had been a
friend of Terri Winchell. Christine testified that Rick Ortega
had called her, crying, a few days after Terri and Randy
Blythe started dating ten months before the murder.
told Christine that he was crying because he had written
Randy Blythe a letter proposing a sexual relationship, but that
Randy then began seeing Terri. Christine then dumped Rick
Randy Blythe testified that Terri Winchell did not know he
was having sex with Rick Ortega, but Rick Ortega knew that
he was having sex with Terri. After Randy Blythe began dating
Terri, Rick told him that I wish you wouldnt spend so
much time with her.
When Randy tried to end his relationship
with Rick Ortega, Rick threatened to kill Randy and his
Christine Salaices, Rick Ortegas previous girlfriend, testified
that five months before the murder, in August 1980, she
met Ortega at a restaurant, where Ortega had told her that he
wanted to go to Randys house and he wanted to ring the
doorbell, and he was gonna wait for Randy to come to the
door and to open the door. And he was gonna have a knife in
his hand and he was gonna repeatedly stab Randy and turn the
knife in him to see the expression on his face. Christine testified
that Ortega had told her that his cousin Mikey [Morales]
would be with him because Mikey wouldnt let him stop.
Mikey would help him and Mikey wouldnt let him stop, that
Mikey would be there. According to Christine, Ortega said
that if Terri was there, she was gonna get it, too. Around the
same time, Ortega repeatedly asked Christine to help him kill
Christine testified that she had told Terri Winchell
about Rick Ortegas threats. But, Christine, testified, by
October 1980, three months before the murder, Rick Ortega
was supposedly feeling better about himself and trying to
make amends with everyone that he had said these things to.
Mike Moraless girlfriend was Raquel Cardenas. Raquel
testified that she had known Morales for seven months at the
time of the murder.
She testified that a few months before the
murder, Morales told her that his friend had gotten hurt by
a girl, and . . . that he was feeling close to his best friend since
he got hurt by that girl. Morales told her that this girl had
dumped his friend and because of this he turned gay.
Glenda Chavez, Terri Winchells best friend, testified that
two weeks before the murder, she spoke with Rick Ortega on
the telephone. Rick told her that Terri was going around saying
that he was gay and that Terri was gonna pay back for
everything she was saying about him. But Rick Ortega called
Glenda back a week later and told her to tell Terri that everything
was okay, that he wanted to be friends with her, and that
he was gonna come over sometime and talk with her.
Pat Flores lived in the same house where Morales lived.
She testified that the day before the murder, while she was sitting
in her kitchen, Mike [Morales] come up from behind me
and he threw a belt around my neck and he tightened it up a
little bit. . . . And then I . . . took it off and I asked him what
he was doing. He said he was practicing. I asked him, I said,
Well, who are you going to do this to? He goes, Never
mind. And I go, Do I know him? He goes, No. Neither do
Around 11:00 in the morning on the day of the murder,
Moraless girlfriend Raquel Cardenas went to Moraless
house, where he lived with Flores. Raquel testified that Morales
got a phone call at 4:30 p.m. According to Raquel, Morales
told her that it was Ortega, and that Rick was gonna come
over later and pick up a girl. Raquel testified that Morales
said he was gonna do Rick a favor, that he was gonna hurt
this girl, that he was gonna strangle her, that he was
gonna use his belt and put it around her neck.
Glenda Chavez also testified that Terri called her the afternoon
before she was murdered. Terri told Glenda that Rick
Ortega had called and asked Terri to come to the mall to help
him pick out a present for his new girlfriend.
Raquel Cardenas, Moraless girlfriend, testified that Flores
came home to where Morales lived around 5:30 p.m. the
afternoon of the murder, and that Rick Ortega showed up
around 6:00 p.m. Rick stayed around ten minutes, then left
with Flores to go to the store, and came back fifteen minutes
later with some wine. Morales drank the whole bottle of wine.
Raquel testified that Morales and Ortega left around 6:30 p.m.
and someone said that Rick was supposed to take a girl to the
mall. She testified on cross-examination that she didnt see
Morales leave with a knife or hammer and didnt see whether
he was wearing a belt.
Pat Flores likewise testified that, on the day of the murder,
Ortega came to her house around 6:30 p.m. and went out with
her to the store, about five minutes away, and came back with
wine. Flores testified that after Mike Morales and Rick Ortega
left, she noticed her hammer was missing when she looked for
it to hang a picture. She also noticed that one of her set of two
similar kitchen knives was missing. Flores identified this
knife on the witness stand at Moraless trial.
Raquel Cardenas testified that Morales and Ortega came
back about an hour later. Morales put a purse on the table, and
dumped everything out of the purse and started searching it.
He showed her Terris high school identification card. Raquel
testified that Morales threw a belt at [her] and told [her]
the belt broke.
Pat Flores likewise testified that when Morales came back,
he had a broken belt with him. Flores also testified that she
saw Morales come in and start water running in the kitchen
sink, then go back outside. She noticed spots on Ortegas collar
and sleeve, spots that Raquel thought appeared like blood,
and testified that Ortega asked her how to get them out. Morales
told Flores to look at Ortegas car, and she saw blood on
the inside of the door, as did Raquel. Moraless hands looked
like he had blood on em.
Pat Flores testified that after Morales had driven Raquel
home, he told Flores that he had put a belt around someones
neck and then that it broke and then he he hit her with the
hammer and then then they took her into a field and
he drug her out of the car and then he he . . . He said
that he stabbed her and then he said that he fucked her.
When Flores asked Morales why, he said, Whatever my family
wants me to do, Ill do it.
Raquel Cardenas also testified that Morales told me how
he killed her. He said Rick was driving, Terri was in the
front passenger seat, and he was sitting behind her. He tried
to strangle her . . . with the belt and it broke so he hit her over
the head . . . with a hammer and he just kept hitting her,
then he dragged her out of the car and left her in the vineyard.
Morales told Raquel it took awhile, that Terri was
a tough girl, and that she was screaming for Rick . . . to
make him stop.
Randy Blythe (Terri Winchells boyfriend, and also Rick
Ortegas boyfriend) testified that around 8:30 that night, he
got together with Rick Ortega in Ortegas car. Rick performed
a sex act on Randy. Randy testified that the car smelled like
The prosecution also presented testimony from a jailhouse
informant, Bruce Samuelson. Like Pat Flores and Raquel Cardenas,
Samuelson testified that Morales had told him he had
killed Terri Winchell. Samuelson testified that, Morales told
him that Morales and Rick Ortega arranged how to murder
Terri Winchell, and that Rick had called him after he had
picked Terri up. Morales told Samuelson that he had prepared
for the murder by taking a belt, a knife, and a hammer. Morales,
according to what he had told Samuelson, attempted to
strangle Terri, the belt broke, he beat her head with a hammer,
dragged her out of the car, raped her, and stabbed her to
When the police searched the house where Pat Flores and
Mike Morales lived, they found Terri Winchells purse. Christine
Salaices, Rick Ortegas former girlfriend, identified the
purse as belonging to Terri, as did Terris best friend Glenda
Chavez. The police also found blood in the floormats and all
over the inside of Rick Ortegas car, and the broken belt under
the mattress, which had blood on it consistent with Terri Winchells
Raquel Cardenas testified that a year and a half after the
murder, not long before the trial, Morales called her and told
her to get out of town some way so that [she would not] be
handed a subpoena. Referring to her prior statement to the
police, Morales told her that he forgave [her] the first time
but wouldnt forgive me the second time.
The jury convicted Morales of first degree murder with premeditation,
found both special circumstances intentional
killing by torture and intentional killing by lying in wait
and returned a verdict for the death penalty.
C. Post-conviction Proceedings
The California Supreme Court affirmed Moraless conviction,
and the United States Supreme Court denied certiorari.1
Moraless conviction became final November 27, 1989.
subsequently petitioned the United States District Court for a
writ of habeas corpus on July 20, 1992, and after 20 of his 52
claims were dismissed without prejudice as not exhausted, he
went back to the state courts on a state habeas petition to
exhaust them. The California Supreme Court denied his petition
on the merits and as untimely on July 28, 1993.
Morales then amended his petition in the United States District
Court. The district court considered the claims that the
1People v. Morales, 257 Cal. Rptr. 64 (Cal. 1989), cert. denied, Morales
v. California, 493 U.S. 984 (1989).
California Supreme Court had dismissed on the merits and
as untimely as having been procedurally defaulted, but we
reversed.2 Our 1996 decision held that the California timeliness
standards were too vague as applied to Moraless petition
to furnish an adequate and independent state ground.3 We
therefore remanded for consideration of Moraless federal
petition on the merits.
Back in district court, Morales moved for an evidentiary
hearing on 39 of his 52 claims. That motion was denied, and
ultimately Moraless petition was denied on the merits. So
now, more than two decades after Terri Winchell was murdered,
and after Morales was convicted by a jury in California
Superior Court, lost his appeal in the California Supreme
Court, was denied certiorari by the United States Supreme
Court, lost his habeas case in the California Supreme Court,
and lost his habeas case on the merits after some initial procedural
skirmishing in the federal district court, we reexamine
California has to go into express warp to get all 640 of the death row inmates executed before they get another liberal governor.
My prediction: Arnie is going to weenie. Hopefully, he'll just delay it instead of granting clemency.
That's why I think Arnie is going to weenie. He doesn't want that perception.
"California has to go into express warp..."
When are they going to finally get rid of Richard Allen Davis? That POS has been an oxygen thief for way too long.
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