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Death in Gas Chamber Voted Again for Baby Killer

January 15, 1987 GMT

SANTA ANA, Calif. (AP) _ A jury has once more recommended the gas chamber for a convicted killer whose case helped lead to the ouster of three state Supreme Court justices.

The jury’s decision Wednesday was the second death penalty recommendation for Theodore Frank, 51, convicted in 1980 of the torture-murder of 2-year-old Amy Sue Seitz.

Orange County Superior Court Judge John Ryan set a Feb. 11 sentencing date.

Frank’s first death sentence was overturned in June 1985 by the state Supreme Court, which ruled jurors should not have seen diaries in which Frank wrote of molesting more than 100 children over 20 years.

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Although the majority opinion was written by Justice Stanley Mosk, the ruling became a rallying point for opponents of Chief Justice Rose Bird, and justices Cruz Reynoso and Joseph Grodin. On on Jan. 5, they became the first justices ever removed from office in California, following the refusal of voters to reconfirm their appointments in November.

The penalty phase of Frank’s case was conducted this time without reference to the diaries, but prosecutor Thomas Hutchins presented evidence of six other incidents of Frank molesting or assaulting children 4 to 11 years old.

Jury foreman Richard Edes of Mission Viejo said the jury was never close to voting life in prison for Frank, the other option.

Defense attorney Willard Wiksell said he plans to file a motion for a new trial or a modification of verdict.

″He’s scared,″ Wiksel said of his client. ″He doesn’t want to die.″

Wiksell had contended that Frank’s need to molest was uncontrollable, arguing that while the jury should ″lock him up and throw the key away,″ they should not sentence a mentally ill person to death.

″I am so elated,″ said Patti Linebaugh, Amy Sue’s grandmother, who had helped campaign against Bird. ″You can’t believe the relief that we feel just because justice has been done. Theodore Frank murdered Amy. The first jury came back with a death penalty conviction and now we’ve got it again.″