The California Supreme Court this week unanimously overturned the death penalty of a man found guilty of three murders in Salinas in 1994.
Daniel Sanchez Covarrubias was sentenced to die for the murders of three members of a Salinas family. Martha Morales, Ramon Morales, and Fernando Martinez were robbed and shot to death by three men who burst into their Salinas home. The Morales’ 11-month old daughter was also shot but survived her injuries.
The Court upheld Covarrubias’ murder convictions but ruled he was entitled to a new penalty trial because a prospective juror who had doubts about capital punishment was improperly dismissed from the jury pool.
Salinas mayor Joe Gunter was a homicide detective at the time and described the scene to KION’s Mariana Hicks. "Gunpowder -- you could smell it in the air when you arrived,” Gunter said. “It was a heavy, foggy night. People injured, the baby crying. People were dead. It was horrendous."
The Court decision sends the case back to Monterey County Superior Court for a new penalty phase.