Attorneys for a California murderer scheduled to be executed next week have withdrawn pro-clemency declarations that five jurors and a prosecution witness purportedly signed, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. A prosecutor called the action an admission that the documents were forged. The defense’s abrupt reversal was a blow to Michael Morales’ hopes of staving off his scheduled Feb. 21 execution at San Quentin State Prison. It raised questions about the roles of his lawyers, who include Pepperdine University law school dean and former independent prosecutor Kenneth Starr. Morales, 46, was convicted of a 1981 rape and murder.
Six of the jurors who had voted for a death sentence purportedly said they now favored clemency or would not object to it. On Friday, prosecutors submitted statements from five of the same jurors disavowing any such statements and saying they had not been contacted by anyone from Morales’s defense team.