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Death Penalty to be Sought for Prison Killing of Novato Man

District attorney Edward Berberian says punishment would be warranted for Frank Souza, who killed Edward Schaefer with a homemade weapon at San Quentin last year.

Marin County's district attorney said he will seek the death penalty against a San Quentin State Prison inmate charged with killing fellow prisoner and Novato resident Edward Schaefer last year.

Frank Anthony Souza, 32, is accused of stabbing Schaefer, 44, seven times with a homemade weapon in the prison's exercise yard on July 26, 2010, San Quentin authorities said.

Schaefer had been convicted in the death of 9-year-old , who was walking across San Marin Drive with her father in May 2009 when Schaefer struck them both with his motorcycle. Melody’s father, Aaron, survived but lost one leg via amputation.

Schaefer was stabbed two weeks after he began serving a sentence of 24 years to life for second-degree murder and gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated. Schaefer, who also suffered injuries, had eight previous DUI convictions.

Souza was indicted in November 2010 on a first-degree murder charge with two special circumstances — lying in wait and having a prior first-degree murder conviction — that make him eligible for the death penalty.

Souza was serving 60 years to life for the first-degree murder of  a homeless man in Santa Clara County. He allegedly killed Schaefer to avenge Osheroff's death.

Marin D.A. Edward Berberian said his decision to seek the death  penalty — the first time he's sought it in his seven years as district  attorney — followed a thorough evaluation of whether it would be  appropriate. He said Souza's decision to kill Schaefer was "cold, calculated and pre-meditated," and noted that Souza could possibly be paroled for the Santa Clara County murder.

Berberian said he offered Souza a plea agreement that would avoid the death penalty if Souza agreed to a term of life without parole for Schaefer's murder and would not appeal his convictions for the Santa Clara murder and a conviction for Schaefer's murder.

"The defense rejected them," Berberian said.

Souza's attorney, M. Gerald Schwartzbach, called Berberian's decision "irrational and fiscally irresponsible" because a capital murder trial is more expensive and requires more time and  preparation.

He said of Souza, "He'll never get out of prison and he'll be housed in a secure unit, if not on Death Row, and he will be no threat to  anyone."

California voters could vote next year on abolishing the death penalty if pending state legislation is passed and signed by Gov. Jerry Brown, Schwartzbach said.

"The death penalty may be gone as early as next year," Schwartzbach said.

Nick Kies August 19, 2011 at 02:15 PM
OH great, so punish the public with the added cost of a death penalty case that is more expensive than a life sentence. OH, that's right, money isn't an object when you want publicity.
Jerome J Ghigliotti Jr August 25, 2011 at 04:07 PM
Why waste Marin taxpayer money with a death penalty trial, and 30 years of appeals when the accused is already serving 66 years to life? Why? Deserving as he may be, when was the last time anyone was executed in California? Gerry Brown and Kamala Harris continue their efforts to abolish the death penalty.

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