The California Supreme Court unanimously upheld the first death sentence for a hate crime in the state.
The Court's ruling against Gunner Jay Lindberg, 33, was handed down on August 28, 2008, 12 years after he brutally murdered a 24-year-old Vietnamese immigrant in Tustin, California.
In 1997, an Orange County Superior Court jury convicted Lindberg of murder in the first degree with the special circumstances of both a hate-crime and attempted robbery; the judge sentenced him to death.
In affirming the sentence in 2008, the Court ruled that "the evidence overwhelmingly showed that the defendant was a racist who regarded non-Whites as subhuman."
In January 1996, Lindberg, 21 at the time, and Domenic Michael Christopher, then 17, approached the victim, asked him if he had a car, then stomped, kicked, and stabbed him 22 times (including 14 times in the heart), slit both of his jugular veins, called him a "Jap," and left him to die on the Tustin High School tennis courts on which he had been rollerblading. His body was found the next morning.
According to authorities, after the attack Lindberg and Christopher threw away the butcher knife they had used, bought cigarettes, then went back to Lindberg's house, where they smoked marijuana, played video games and watched horror movies.
A month later, Lindberg sent a letter to a cousin in New Mexico, Walter Dulaney, boasting about the murder in graphic detail. He wrote that Christopher encouraged him to kill the man, and kicked him in the face himself. Dulaney's wife contacted law enforcement.
While executing a search warrant of Lindberg's apartment, authorities seized a collection of white supremacist literature referring to the Ku Klux Klan, White Aryan Resistance, the National Association for the Advancement of White People, the Aryan Movement, Crusade for Christ and Country, the Nationalist Party of Canada, and the Aryan Research Fellowship, as well as videos depicting real-life deaths, a list of people he wanted dead, and hand drawn images of Hitler.
According to authorities, Lindberg, Christopher, and Dulaney formed a white supremacist gang they called the Insane Criminal Posse. During the trial Dulaney testified that Lindberg described the murder as "better than a drug" and said it was committed as part of a "racial movement."
In 1997, Christopher was convicted of first-degree murder. He is currently serving 25 years to life in prison.
Lindberg, who was born in Orange County, has a long and violent criminal history. His crimes include the assault and robbery of a day laborer (whom he called a "wetback"), leaving him with a broken arm and facial wounds requiring 19 stitches; the home-invasion robbery and beating of an 82-year-old woman; and the BB gun shooting of an 11-year-old boy because the boy's father was a police officer.
He spent time in a Missouri juvenile facility and eventually in state prison. It was during this time that Lindberg's white supremacist ideology grew. He claims to have run the white supremacist White Aryan Resistance group while incarcerated, and reportedly began writing to Gordon Jack Mohr, a retired Army officer and prominent white supremacist .
No execution date has been set for Lindberg. California has over 600 inmates with death sentences but has only executed a handful of criminals since the death penalty was reinstated there in 1978.
Lindberg is currently on death row in San Quentin, where he has created an online profile seeking pen pals through a service called Death Row Speaks. In the profile Lindberg describes himself as "a good guy…honest and respectful…funny" and "a great listener."