State Supreme Court upholds death penalty against Tulare County man

The Fresno BeeJune 2, 2014 

The California Supreme Court on Monday upheld the death penalty verdict against Steven Brown in the rape and murder of 11-year-old April Holley, a notorious Tulare County murder case.

In 1988, Holley was found dead and partially submerged in a bathtub inside a trailer she shared with her mother and sister in Matheny Tract, south of Tulare.

She had been raped and drowned.

A jury in 1996 found Brown guilty of first-degree murder, sodomy, and forcible lewd acts on a minor under 14, with the special circumstances of murder involving a sex crime.

A Tulare County judge handed down the death penalty.

Brown, 46, was 20 when Holley was murdered.

He was already serving a 53-year prison sentence for the sexual attack of a 73-year-old woman in Tulare when he was charged in the Holley case.

Another man, Charles Keith Richardson, was also found guilty during an earlier trial and sentenced to death, a verdict upheld in 2008 by the Supreme Court.

Richardson, 51, was 25 when Holley was murdered.

A hearing on Richardson's mental capacity is set next year in Tulare County Superior Court. Three years ago, he said he was severely ill and close to death.

Both men are on death row.

The death penalty verdict against Brown was automatically appealed to the Supreme Court.

The reporter can be reached at (559) 441-6104, lgriswold@fresnobee.com or @fb_LewGriswold on Twitter.

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