Court upholds death penalty for killing of police officer
Aug 10, 2010
The California Supreme Court yesterday unanimously upheld the death sentence in the murder of a Manhattan Beach police officer.
Justice Kathryn M. Werdegar, writing for the court, rejected arguments that Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Stephen E. O’Neil, since deceased, allowed prosecutors to present an overly dramatized victim-impact case in support of the death penalty for Roger Hoan Brady.
Officer Martin Ganz, whose 12-year-old nephew was with him in his police vehicle on a department-approved “ride-along,” was shot to death after a traffic stop two days after Christmas 1993. Brady, who had moved to Oregon, was charged with the killing nine months later.
Brady, who had earlier served three years in prison for bank robbery, was also linked to other robberies, and to the killing of a potential witness after he robbed a supermarket in the Portland, Ore., area. Distribution of a drawing of the suspect in that shooting led to his being charged with the Ganz murder.
A .380-caliber handgun was seized from his residence by Oregon authorities, and subsequently determined to be the weapon used to kill Ganz.
He was convicted of aggravated murder in Oregon and sentenced to life imprisonment, then tried in Los Angeles Superior Court in Torrance, where jurors found him guilty of first degree murder with special circumstances of prior murder, killing a police officer engaged in the performance of official duties, and killing to avoid arrest.
In the penalty phase, prosecutors presented evidence of Brady’s involvement in 20 robberies and attempted robberies of banks, markets, and a pharmacy, and of the impact Ganz’s killing had on his fiancée, relatives, and fellow officers.
The defense sought to counter that evidence by presenting testimony of Brady’s difficulties as the son of an American father, who served in Vietnam and later became an NBC correspondent based first in that country and later in Hong Kong, and a Vietnamese mother.
Roger Brady was addicted to crack cocaine, and his father testified that his son’s behavior was heavily influenced by his own substance abuse.
Jurors delivered a death penalty verdict. O’Neil denied the automatic motion to modify the verdict and imposed the death sentence in 1998.
Werdegar said the victim-impact testimony and use of videotapes of the officer’s family Christmas celebration and of his funeral and memorial services, while emotional, did not exceed the appropriate limits of victim-impact testimony.
“To the extent defendant further contends that particular portions of the officers’ courtroom testimony were overly emotional and thus prejudicially inflammatory, defendant did not object nor did he request the trial court to give the witnesses some time to compose themselves, consequently forfeiting the issue on appeal,” the jurist wrote.
Werdegar also rejected the contention that the prosecutor made an improper racial remark by referring to Brady in argument as a “Bengal tiger.” The record, the justice said, places the remark in its proper context, which is that the prosecutor was contrasting the defendant’s docile appearance in court with his violent and criminal actions “in less controlled circumstances.”
The case was argued in the high court by court-appointed attorney Susan K. Marr of Brentwood, Tenn., for the defendant and Deputy Attorney General Noah P. Hill of Los Angeles for the prosecution.
The case is People v. Brady, 10 S.O.S. 4624.