SACRAMENTO, Calif., Sept. 26 -- Gov. Pete Wilson signed into law Tuesday a bill that makes any murder committed during a carjacking or the killing of a juror an offense punishable by death. The bill, sponsored by Sen. Steve Peace, D-El Cajon, is scheduled to take effect Jan. 1, 1996, but to be permanently placed on the books must also be approved by voters during the March 1996 primary election.
Flanked by a woman whose fiance was killed by a carjacker, Wilson told reporters the law culminated a four-year effort on his part to toughen the penalties for carjacking. 'This bill sends an unmistakable message to gang bangers: If you take someone's life while committing a cowardly carjacking, you can expect to pay for your crime with your own life,' Wilson said. The governor had tried to push the legislation through the Democrat- controlled statehouse last year but failed. He said he was persistent and urged the reintroduction of the measure this year because the number of carjackings is on the rise. According to the FBI, in Los Angeles alone the number of carjackings climbed from 3,600 in 1991 to 6,297 in 1992. Wilson said the law also would serve as a warning to those attempting to intimidate jurors. 'The legislation also broadens California's death penalty to add the killing of a juror to a list of special circumstances that already includes retaliatory killings against witnesses and judges,' the governor said.