Orange County Death Row Inmate Wins California Supreme Court Reversal

Gary Galen Brents CA Death Row.jpg
Brents: Gotta match?
A vicious Orange County career criminal, heroin addict, pimp and killer given a death sentence nearly 12 years ago has reason to rejoice today after the California Supreme Court reversed the punishment because a judge here botched the jury instructions.

In a 26-page ruling written by Justice Joyce Kennard, the high court determined that the superior court trial judge, John J. Ryan, "for reasons that are not clear . . . deviated" from proper jury instructions in a way that misled Gary Galen Brents' jury on a key kidnapping count.

Authorities had arrested Brents for ending a $100 methamphetamine deal with an Anaheim prostitute by beating and choking her, shoving her in the trunk of a blue Cadillac, driving to a remote location, opening the trunk, pouring gas on her, shutting the trunk, pouring gas around the vehicle and striking a fatal match.

The 26-year-old prostitute and mother of three young kids, Kelly Gordon, burnt to death inside the trunk of the vehicle in an industrial area near Lakewood in Los Angeles County.

An Orange County jury found Brents--who'd already been to prison five prior times--guilty of special circumstances murder in May 2000 and then, despite hearing that Brents had been beaten severely as a child by his stepfather, ordered the death penalty.

(Incredibly given the circumstances, the jury was unable to determine if Gordon--represented by criminal defense lawyer Gary Pohlson--had been tortured before her gruesome death.)

But the Supreme Court ruled that Ryan's botched jury instructions made it impossible to determine the jury's view on the special circumstances enhancement relating to a kidnapping charge.

Though he no longer faces the death penalty, the 50-year-old Brents will likely never leave a California prison.

The justices noted that the defendant's trial defense did not shake the government's solid proof of his guilt as the killer in the case.

Ironically, Brents and the victim's father got into a shouting match at the Dec. 2000 sentencing hearing where the man celebrated the killer's death punishment.

--R. Scott Moxley / OC Weekly

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You ought to be ashamed of yourself.  Gotta match?, very respectful.  What do you think it is like for family members of Kelly, to read "Gotta Match?" You are a disgrace to journalism. I hope you go through something like this and see a dumb ass write some thing as callous and unthought out as you just wrote. I'm so glad that you are writing about a man getting to rejoice about admitting to finally committing murder.  Do you realize that is the only way this case got over turned.  He denounced his guilt through the whole trial, and only when a liberal puke lawyer points out the fact that if he admits to the murder there is a loophole that he can use to reduce his sentence. Get your story straight also, Gary Paulson did not represent Kelly Gordon, he was the defense attorney and Gordon was the victim. Please do us all a favor and throw away your computer so no one else has to read one of your uneducated, unbeleivably insensitve blogs ever again. 

Raymond McCauley
Raymond McCauley

"Brents had been beaten severely as a child by his stepfather", So fucking what this should play no part in whether he should spend the rest of his life in prison or be executed. I was treated badly as a child growing up and I no plenty of others who also were treated badly and none of us have ever killed another human. A matter of fact because of the way I was treated as a child I never raised a hand against my children nor did I every degrade them because I no how it feels to be treated that way and I would never want a child of my own to go through that. In my opinion the supreme's made the wrong call because they all agree he he is guilty so taking the death penalty away because the the judge screwed up when explaining the rules to the jury is bull Shit


Joyce Kennard, who allowed technicalities to interfere with justice, should be made to share the same cell as Gary Galen Brents.

mitch young
mitch young

Didn't he know he was playing into racist stereotypes?

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