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No Death Penalty Relief in 1986 Livermore Murder of Nurse

By Tanya Roth, Esq. on July 31, 2012 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

The California Supreme Court upheld the death sentence of Richard Tully on Monday, in a case stemming from the 1986 of a 59-year-old nurse in Livermore.

The opinion consists of 171 pages, so we'll bring you the basics. For more in depth information on the case, you can read the entire People v. Tully case here.

Shirley Olsson's body was found naked, with 23 stab wounds on July 25, 1986. A bloody knife and her purse were found at a nearby golf course.

Tully was apprehended a few months down the line, based on fingerprint evidence. Tully admitted raping the victim but denied murdering her. He was convicted and he jury found special circumstances that the murder was committed during the commission of a burglary and that there was assault with intent to commit rape.

He was sentenced to death.

Tully raised several arguments in his death sentence appeal. For starters, he argued during the trial phase that a man named "Doubting Thomas" had committed the murder. On appeal, he argued that there was insufficient evidence that he had burglarized the house with the intent to commit rape, blaming Doubting Thomas.

He also raised the argument that the prosecutor quoted the Bible during his closing arguments. This quotation, he argued, supported the death penalty.

Unfortunately for Tully, his attorneys didn't object to the Bible statements at that time.

The California Supreme Court rejected Tully's arguments and upheld his death sentence.

The next stop in this case might be the U.S. Supreme Court, Tully's lawyers told The San Jose Mercury. They've already filed a petition for rehearing and SCOTUS might be the next step if the petition is denied.

The Mercury News also reports that a separate habeas petition has been filed in the case with the California Supreme Court. The habeas petition alleges prosecutorial misconduct and incompetence of defense counsel.

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