Can Mavrick Get the Death Penalty in California?

By: Mary Pat Luetke-Stahlman

In the case of Mavrick William Fisher, the community has come to question how things are done in California and whether Fisher may face the death penalty if found guilty of the murder of his travel-mate, Grant Whitaker. There are several laws that come in play within the state of California.

California has not executed a prisoner since 2006. On July 16, 2014, federal Judge Cormac J. Carney of the United States District Court ruled that the death penalty system in California is unconstitutional. This was overturned by a federal appeals court on Thursday, November 5, 2015. This was a unanimous decision and the three-judge panel rejected the argument on a technicality that it did not address the question of whether life on death row in California constituted cruel and unusual punishment.

On March 12, 2019; the New York Times announced that the California Death Penalty was suspended and that the 737 inmates on death row in California got a stay of execution. This was announced via a moratorium on capital punishment by Governor Gavin Newsom.

“I know people think eye for eye, but if you rape, we don’t rape,” he said. “And I think if someone kills, we don’t kill. We’re better than that.” (Newsom)

This ensures that Fisher will not be facing the death penalty but he can be facing life in prison. According to the Penal Code 187.(a), murder is the unlawful killing of a human being, or a fetus, with malice aforethought. Malice is the intention or desire to do evil or have ill will.

He can express intent to unlawfully take away the life of another person. It is also be implied when no provocation appears or to show malice during the time of the murder (excessive use of force). With this said, the penal code says that every person guilty of murder in the first degree shall be punishable by death, imprisonment in the state prison for life, or between 25 years to life in prison. If he is found guilty in the second degree shall be punished for a term of 15 years to life.

Murder in the first degree - Felony (No bail)

Murder in the first degree - Felony (No bail)

Fisher’s murder is not eligible to be classified as “capital murder” unless it has one of these following factors:

  • The victim is a police officer, firefighter, paramedic or similar public safety professional and is killed while on duty

  • The victim is killed during the commission of another violent felony, such as armed robbery, kidnapping, arson, etc. (felony murder)

  • The victim is tortured, raped or sexually assaulted, particularly if the victim is a child

  • Multiple murders are committed pursuant to one another

  • Murder-for-hire

  • Terrorism

  • Murder was a hate crime

Fisher has been extradited to the United States as of August 27, 2019 and is being charged with first degree murder. He is not eligible for bail at this time.