SAN FRANCSICO (CBS SF) — The only man on San Quentin’s death row from San Francisco, Clifford Bolden, had his sentence reduced to life in prison Tuesday in a plea deal with local prosecutors.
San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin announced his office had agreed to reduce Bolden’s sentence to 47 years-to-life in exchange for the condemned killer forfeiting his appeals in federal and state court.
Under the unusual agreement, Bolden, who has already served more than 34 years in prison for the 1986 murder of Henry Michael Pedersen, will not be eligible for parole until the age of 79.
A San Francisco Superior Court judge resentenced Bolden on Tuesday. Bolden was not in court because of the current COVID-19 outbreak at San Quentin.
“In recent years, an increasing number of Americans — and San Franciscans — have come to recognize that the death penalty is not only undeniably cruel and inconsistent with the values of a humane society, but also fails to deter or prevent crime,” Boudin said in a news release. “My office has not sought and will not seek the death penalty, and I am pleased that we have been able to ensure that no one previously sentenced in San Francisco will remain on death row either.”
A jury had convicted Bolden of first-degree murder and robbery with the special circumstance in the Pedersen slaying in 1991. The judge sentenced him to 22 years for the robbery, which was stayed until the completion of the death sentence.
Bolden’s conviction was upheld in state court, but he had pending legal challenges in federal court.
In its motion seeking the resentencing, the DA’s office argued for the reduced life sentence in lieu of the death penalty for several reasons including that there was no public safety concerns with the reduction. In papers filed with the court, San Francisco prosecutors also explained that during his time in prison Bolden has not suffered a single serious rule violation in over 25 years.