Albert Greenwood Brown, Jr. (born August 18, 1954) is an American convicted of sexual molestation of a minor, two counts of rape, and the murder of an adolescent in Riverside, California. He was scheduled to die by lethal injection at 9 p.m. on September 30, 2010 in California's first use of capital punishment after the lifting of a court-ordered moratorium. The use of lethal injection had been suspended in the state since February 2006 because of objections of cruel and unusual punishment due to shortcomings of the facilities and procedures previously in use at San Quentin State Prison. Brown's lawyers appealed to block their client's execution, with the execution initially planned to be carried out in a new facility at the prison that is certified to utilize either a single or three-drug protocol.
The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ordered U.S. District Judge Jeremy D. Fogel to review the case, noting that the execution date may have been influenced by the fact that the prison's inventory of sodium thiopental, one of the drugs required for lethal injection, would expire on October 1, 2010. Judge Fogel halted the execution to permit time to review whether the new injection procedures addressed previous objections. On September 29, 2010, the Supreme Court of California unanimously denied an appeal by the state to proceed by the end of the month. Brown's execution has since been delayed because the prison's supply of the lethal injection drug expired. The manufacturer of sodium thiopental stated that new supplies would not be available until 2011.
Brown grew up in Tulare, California with his father's family that reportedly saw to it that "every kid went to college". According a Tulare Western High School yearbook, he was to be part of the class of 1972. However, he was expelled from school after he accidentally fired a gun that he had brought on campus and grazed another student in the head. He joined the United States Marine Corps, but was brought to court-martial and discharged in 1975 for being absent without leave. He moved to Riverside, California to live with his divorced mother and was soon charged with molesting an 11-year-old girl. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to two years probation.
On an early morning in 1976, Brown broke into a home in Riverside and hid in a closet until all of the residents had left. When a 14-year-old girl returned from a paper route to go to school, he choked her unconscious and raped her in her mother's room. Brown pleaded guilty to charges of rape with force on May 4, 1978 and was sentenced to state prison. He was paroled on June 14, 1980 and found work cleaning and preparing new cars for sale at Rubidoux Motors in Riverside County.
Death of Susan Louise Jordan
On the morning of October 28, 1980, Brown abducted 15-year-old Susan Louise Jordan while she was on her way to Arlington High School in Riverside. He had been posing as a jogger on the route. After dragging her to an orange grove, Brown raped her and strangled her to death with her own shoelace and took her identification cards and school books. Susan's mother Angelina Jordan, who coincidentally left her car to be serviced at Brown's workplace, Rubidoux Motors, went to the school to search for Susan after her younger sister Karen and younger brother James returned home without her. After finding the family's number in a phone book, Brown called Angelina Jordan from a payphone at around 7:30 p.m. to tell her where he left her daughter's body. According to court documents, he said: "Hello, Mrs. Jordan, Susie isn't home from school yet, is she? You will never see your daughter again. You can find her body on the corner of Victoria and Gibson." Susan's body was found after Brown repeatedly made calls to the Riverside Police Department and the Jordan residence. One of Brown's subsequent calls was recorded by a police officer.
Arrest and investigation
Brown was arrested on November 6, 1980 after three witnesses came forward to identify him and his Pontiac Trans Am with a Rubidoux Motors paper plate near the site of the murder. Susan's identification cards were found in a phone booth at a nearby Texaco service station. During a search of Brown's home on November 7, police found Susan's books, a newspaper article about the case, and a Riverside telephone directory in which the page opposite the listing for the Jordan family was folded. Brown was discovered to have been late to work on the day she disappeared. A jogging suit stained with blood and semen was found in his locker at the employee coffee shop. Brown's shoes were matched to footprints from the crime scene.
Murder trial and appeals
Brown was placed on death row at San Quentin State Prison.
On February 4, 1982, a Riverside County jury convicted Brown of first-degree murder with the special circumstance of rape. During sentencing hearings, his defense attorney argued that Brown was remorseful and presented evidence of psychiatric problems, including sexual dysfunction. Brown claimed that he was physically abused by his aunt as a child and spanked by his mother. His mother denied abusing Brown, but claimed that her son was out buying milk at the time of the murder. The surviving victim of the 1976 rape case testified against him. The jury deliberated for less than three hours on February 19 and sentenced Brown to death. On March 2, 1982, he was placed on death row at San Quentin State Prison in San Quentin, California.
In 1985, Brown's sentence was overturned by the California Supreme Court and reinstated by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1987. Brown's defense filed a motion of habeas corpus to the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, arguing that he received ineffective counsel at his trial and that his sentence was a cruel and unusual punishment that violated the 8th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. On September 19, 2007, Judge Michael Daly Hawkins denied Brown's appeal and upheld lower court rulings.
On August 29, 2010, a California court lifted a statewide injunction against capital punishment with the certification of new lethal injection procedures. On the next day, Riverside County District Attorney Rod Pacheco sought a death warrant for Brown. Riverside County judge Roger Luebs initially set Brown's execution for 12:01 a.m. on September 29, 2010. On August 31, prison warden Vince Cullen personally walked to Brown's cell to read the death warrant to him.
Last minute appeals
Judge Fogel, whose 2006 ruling had halted executions in California, gave Brown until September 26 to decide on a method of execution, including the new lethal injection protocols. Brown refused to make a selection. Defense attorney John Grele described Brown as "a simple man with obvious neuropsychological deficits" who is unprepared to make such a decision. Arguing that forcing him to decide on the manner of his death is "unconstitutionally medieval," Brown's defense team asked the judge to reconsider allowing the execution to proceed. Fogel declined to issue a stay of execution, which he stated would have been considered if Brown selected a single injection and the prison refused to carry it out. In the absence of a decision, the prison defaulted to preparing the three-drug protocol. According to Lt. Sam Robinson of San Quentin State Prison, the gas chamber is still fully functional and available if required.
On September 27, Marin County judge Verna Adams denied a defense request to stop the execution. An appeal for clemency was forwarded to California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. Prosecutor Rod Pacheco wrote to Schwarzenegger urging him not to intervene. The governor refused Brown's request to commute the sentence to life imprisonment without parole, but delayed the execution to 9 p.m. on September 30 to provide appeals courts more time to review the case. Brown alleged that he suffered child abuse that should have been brought up at his trial. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ordered Fogel to revisit the case because California law specified that the inmate should only choose between the gas chamber and lethal injection, not the drugs themselves. Fogel admitted his offer to Brown was "ill-advised" and halted the execution to permit time to determine whether the new injection procedures addressed defense arguments of cruel and unusual punishment. The appeals court also noted that the prison's supply of sodium thiopental, a drug required for lethal injection, was expiring on October 1. A state appeal to resume the execution by 7 p.m. on September 30 was unanimously denied by the California Supreme Court. California and other states have run short of the drug because the manufacturer Hospira is unable to meet demand at least until January 2011 because of raw material supply issues. State attorney general Jerry Brown (no relation) recommended halting execution proceedings until necessary supplies were secured. His office stated that a new date would be scheduled as soon as legally possible.
On October 6, 2010, the state attorney general's office notified Judge Fogel in a court filing that the state had obtained enough sodium thiopental for up to four more executions. Scott Kernan of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation called the Arizona Department of Corrections "life savers" for providing 12 grams of the drug after the Texas Department of Criminal Justice denied a similar request. The state of California spent $36,415 to acquire an additional 521 grams of sodium thiopental from Archimedes Pharma of Great Britain to last through 2014. Fogel stated that he understood the state would request a new execution date no earlier than 30 days after court hearings, which are expected in 2011. Susan Louise Jordan's sister Karen criticized the distress to her family caused by the delays: "The appeals process in California has proven to be nothing more than a never-ending war of attrition against justice and the rights of victims and their families."
Politicization of the execution
Albert Greenwood Brown's lawyers blamed the move to execute their client on the tight race between Jerry Brown and Meg Whitman for the 2010 California gubernatorial election to succeed retiring governor Schwarzenegger. The office of state attorney general Jerry Brown pushed to resume capital punishment following the adoption of new regulations in California. Republican nominee Meg Whitman claimed: "None of this squares with Jerry Brown's record." The Democratic campaign of Jerry Brown, who pledged to "enforce the laws" of California, denied any connection between the case and the election. Prosecutor Rod Pacheco, who supported Whitman, said that it would be unfair to accuse Jerry Brown of using the execution for political gain as they never discussed the case. Jerry Brown was quoted as saying "Albert Greenwood Brown Jr. deserves everything that he has coming to him in regards to due process. I have no doubt that his execution will be carried out fastidiously and in a timely manner." Jerry Brown won the election in November 2010.