Lawrence's family gathered 32,000 signatures on a petition for the death penalty in an unsuccessful attempt to get the state legislature to overturn Vermont's longtime ban on capital punishment, Richard says. "The trial was real quick," she adds. "July 9 was the crime, and by September he was convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to 50 years to life in prison. Then he just disappeared from sight. The people were satisfied; justice had been done."
Pollard's attorneys, however, fired a volley of appeals at higher courts, according to stories in the Messenger and other published reports. And in 1995 the Vermont Supreme Court overturned the conviction, finding that Pollard had been improperly found competent and therefore may have been denied his right to an attorney by being allowed to represent himself at the sentencing. Pollard was remanded to the Vermont State Hospital for treatment of chronic paranoid schizophrenia.
Prosecutors vowed to retry the case but were hampered by the fact that much of the evidence had been destroyed, newspaper reports say. Two weeks ago a district court judge accepted a "no contest" plea to manslaughter and sentenced Pollard to 15 years in prison. He was given credit for the 10 years he had already spent in custody. Pollard was then granted parole - "subject to placement to his mother's home in San Diego," according to Dick Turner, deputy director of correctional services with the state of Vermont - and placed on probation for an indefinite amount of time.
According to Turner, Pollard will depart for California as soon as an agreement is ironed out with state corrections officials. He will remain in custody, most likely in a halfway house, to serve out his probation; after that, he'll be released to Sadie Pollard's place in Oceanside. A request to interview Pollard at Vermont State Hospital, where he is currently receiving treatment, was denied. Anderson, of Vermont's parole and probation department, the man in whose hands Pollard's fate now rests, has little sympathy for San Diegans who say he's not welcome. "I'm sorry about it being your back yard, but if he's a California resident, he's your problem."