California judge nixes effort to execute Hanahan killer Mitchell Sims
A judge in California has shot down a prosecutor’s request to order the execution of a death row inmate also convicted of two killings in Hanahan.
L.A. District Attorney Steve Cooley filed a request in May requesting that convicted killer Mitchell Sims and another inmate be put to death using a court-approved, single-drug method used in other parts of the country.
On Monday, however, Superior Court Judge Larry Paul Fidler in Los Angeles denied the request, saying he did not have jurisdiction to order a procedure that has never been used in California, according to Cooley’s office and Associated Press reports.
Sandi Gibbons, public information officer for Cooley’s office, said prosecutors are now considering their options for appealing the ruling.
Sims, 52, earned a spot on California’s death row for the torture killing of a Domino’s Pizza delivery man in Glendale in 1985. That murder occurred just days after Sims gunned down two co-workers at a Domino’s Pizza parlor in Hanahan, a crime for which he was given a second death sentence.
An agreement between the states sent Sims back to California to await his execution. But that state’s notoriously circuitous appeals process and challenges to California’s lethal injection policies have long delayed Sims’ date with death.
Executions in California have been on hold for years due to allegations that a three-drug protocol the Golden State used for executions put the condemned at risk of pain and suffering.
Motions filed by Cooley’s office sought to resume executions using a one-drug protocol used in Ohio, Washington and Arizona. That would eliminate two of the drugs that allegedly put the condemned at risk, his office said in a statement.
If granted, Cooley’s motions could have ended Sims’ quarter-century wait for execution.
On Dec. 3, 1985, Sims hid a .25-caliber pistol in his clothes and walked to a Domino’s Pizza shop on Yeamans Hall Road where he worked as a delivery man. He looted the store’s safe and shot co-workers Gary Melke and Christopher Zerr, execution-style. After the shooting, Sims returned home and went to sleep.
Sims later traveled with his girlfriend to California, where they killed a Domino’s delivery man after ordering pizza to their motel room on Dec. 10, 1985. The driver, John Harrington, was stripped, gagged and drowned in a bathtub.
The pair then stole Harrington’s truck and held up the Domino’s shop where he worked. Employees were herded into a freezer, tied up and forced to stand on their toes to avoid hanging themselves.
“I am not a nice guy,” Sims said at his 1989 trial for the Hanahan murders, which was moved to Aiken. “You know it and I know it.”