Though he was sentenced to death in 2001, Rex Krebs could remain on California's death row for 15 more years or longer.
Like all inmates sentenced to death, Krebs was granted an automatic appeal. But he wasn't assigned an attorney until September 2006--more than five years after his sentencing.
His case was further delayed when his attorney, Ojai's Neil Quinn, suffered a personal tragedy. After his wife was killed in a car accident, Quinn had to file for several extensions in the case.
Once Quinn resumed the case, he had to read through the entire record.
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"There's something like 35,000 pages of court record," said Bill McLennan, one of the attorneys who handled Krebs' Superior Court trial.
Quinn, a 21-year veteran of the Ventura County Public Defender's office, will next have to file an opening brief, laying out potential areas of reversible error. That should be done sometime this year. At that point, the Attorney General's Office will respond.
While the average inmate lives 17.5 years after arriving at San Quentin, since 2000, inmates executed there spent an average of 21 years on death row.
It costs an estimated $90,000 a year to house death row inmates. It costs just over $34,000 to house noncondemned inmates at state prisons.
-- Patrick S. Pemberton