State High Court Rejects Claim by Man Sentenced to Death for Six Oakland Murders in 1986

The California Supreme Court today unanimously turned down an Oakland man’s challenge to his conviction and death penalty for the murder of six people in 1986.

David Esco Welch, 57, was sentenced to death in Alameda County Superior Court in 1989 for a rampage with an Uzi rifle in which he killed his 16-year-old ex-girlfriend, Dellane Mabrey, two of her brothers, her 2-year-old daughter and another woman and child as they slept in Mabrey’s mother’s house in East Oakland.

At the time, the attack was the largest multiple murder in Oakland’s history. It was surpassed in 2012 when seven people were fatally shot at Oikos University, allegedly by a former student.

Today’s decision by the high court in San Francisco was the second time the panel affirmed Welch’s conviction.

The court first upheld his conviction in 1999 in a ruling on his direct appeal from the trial court. Welch then filed a habeas corpus petition in 2002 with additional challenges to his conviction.

The court today rejected Welch’s claims that there was juror misconduct and that his trial lawyer failed to investigate and offer evidence that he suffered from serious child abuse as a mitigating factor in the penalty phase of the case.

Justice Goodwin Liu wrote for the court that in light of strong aggravating evidence against Welch, the potential additional evidence would not have affected the death penalty verdict.

“We do not believe the available child abuse evidence would have strengthened the mental illness defense to such a degree that, despite the enormity of the aggravating evidence, a different outcome was reasonably probable,” Liu wrote.

The court said it will address additional habeas corpus claims by Welch in a separate order.

Julia Cheever, Bay City News

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