A Federal appeals court today upheld the death sentence for kid-killing rapist Richard Stokley. No execution date has been set, but Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne doesn't want to see Stokley's date with death delayed any further.
"The date for Stokley's sentence to be carried out has not been set, but I am hopeful that this killer will be brought to justice without excessive delay from the federal system," Horne says. "The families of the victims deserve to see justice in a timely manner."
Stokley was convicted of the brutal 1991 rapes and murders of two girls, Mandy Meyers and her friend Mary Snyder, each just 13 years old.
The two girls were camping with friends in the small town of Elfrida, about 80 miles southeast of Tucson.
The girls were lured or abducted from the campsite, taken to a remote area where they were raped, beaten, and stabbed to death. Their bodies were then thrown into a partly flooded mine shaft.
Stokley's accomplice, then-19-year-old Randy Brazeal, told his father about the murders the next day and surrendered to police. Brazeal told the cops Stokley had forced him to participate in the rapes and murders, although, Stokley maintains his accomplice was a willing participant.
Brazeal accepted a plea deal from the Cochise County Attorney's Office -- he admitted guilt to two counts of second degree murder and accepted a sentence of 20 years.
Stokley is one of 24 Arizona prison inmates who've been on death row for at least 20 years.
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According to the DOC's 2010 Operating Per Capita Cost Report, it costs taxpayers $66.90 a day ($24,418 a year) to house, feed, and care for a single inmate in the Browning Unit of the Eyman Prison, where death-row inmates are housed. That's about $6 more than the $60.59 average for all units in the prison system.
Multiply $24,418 by the 24 inmates who've spent more than 20 years on death row, and you'll see that Arizona spent $586,032 last year alone to house convicted murderers who've spent more than two decades waiting to be executed.
Again, that's last year alone -- and it's only about 20 percent of the Death Row population. When you look at all of death row, Arizona taxpayers spent $3,174,405 on cell space for convicted murderers last year as they attempt to cheat court-ordered executions.
"Stokley was eligible for the death penalty because the victims were minors, Stokley committed multiple murders, and he committed the crimes in an especially heinous, cruel or depraved manner," Horne continues. "The panel rejected Stokley's appeal claim that his sentencing counsel had been ineffective."