Executions may resume in California as Mataele waits on death row

A federal judge was expected to make a decision on whether or not the execution procedures were constitutional in California, United States.

Analysts believed the decision could bring back death penalty to the State.

That was not good news for 45-year-old Tongan, Tupoutoe Mataele who was waiting for a “court action” and the date on which he is to be executed by lethal injection.

About 750 inmates were on California’s Death Row after the U.S. western state last performed an execution in January 2006.

The death penalty was then halted until the state fixed problems in injection procedures and staff training.

The hold came into effect after a district judge said the procedures had “created a serious risk of a botched and agonizing execution in violation of constitutional standards.”

The state’s highest court recently upheld a new law regarding the death penalty and ruled that the five-year requirement for resolution of post-trial appeals was a “directive” and therefore not mandatory.

“That led some supporters of the measure to suggest that executions could resume in California with a matter of months,” the San Diego Union Tribune has reported last month.

Mataele, who had pleaded with the judge to “have mercy on me” was on death row for murder and attempted murder 20 years ago in a case which prosecutors said stemmed from a falling out from an identity-theft conspiracy.

Mataele was convicted for the shooting death of Danell Johnson on Nov. 12, 1997, and the attempted murder of John Matsubayashi, Johnson’s roommate.

The court was told Mataele and co-defendant Minh Nghia Lee and the two victims were at one time connected in a conspiracy to steal identities and commit bank fraud. But, prosecutors said, the group had a falling out.

Mataele and Lee lured Johnson outside his Anaheim apartment and shot him in the head, the court was reportedly told.

Lee was convicted of first- degree murder and sentenced to life without parole in 2005 while a third defendant, James Chung, was serving a life term without parole.

Mataele’s case occurred about two months after another Tongan man in Utah was convicted of murdering University of Nevada, Reno Police Officer George Sullivan in 1997.

In that case a jury had sentenced Siaosi Vanisi to die for the crime.

As Kaniva News reported earlier this week, Vanisi’s case was currently being reviewed by a court.

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