Friday, October 17, 2008

Lance Purcell - A repeat Sex Offender is committed to an indeterminate sentence

Sexual predator recommitted, takes on 'burden' to get trial

Lance Purcell
Photo by: Special to the Free Lance

A jury ruled Tuesday that Lance Purcell still deserves the sexually violent predator classification, and with a new state law in effect, the 61-year-old now faces an "indeterminate sentence" instead of automatically coming up for a new trial every two years, said Deputy District Attorney Patrick Palacios.

The jury spent about an hour and 15 minutes deliberating Tuesday after a trial that started Oct. 6. While jury members ruled that Purcell remains a sexually violent predator, a state classification, the new law no longer requires the semi-annual recommitment proceedings, said Palacios. Instead, independent evaluators from here on out will conduct their own examinations on a periodic basis to find whether he's eligible at some point for another consideration for release, Palacios said.

"The burden has shifted now," said Palacios, referring to defendants having to show they're potentially fit for release before a new trial.

Purcell was convicted of attempting to abduct a 5-year-old Hollister girl in 1994 and received a 16-year prison sentence taking into account his prior convictions including rape, molestation and assault with a deadly weapon in Santa Cruz and Santa Clara counties dating back to the 1960s.

Purcell has been committed as a violent sexual predator since 2001 when he entered a mental treatment program at Atascadero. More recently, he has been institutionalized at Coalinga State Hospital, and that's where he was set to return. The prior law required that such inmates are "recommitted" every two years.

Judge Robert Moody, visiting from Monterey County, presided over the trial.

"People are glad we did the job and the jury came back quickly and made the right decision," Palacios said.

"25% of all sex offenders re-offend within 15 years"
.........Sarah Tofte

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