1400 Washington AveAlbanyNY
1400 Washington AveAlbanyNY

Bill Babbitt Collection

1970, 1982, 1991-2008

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Abstract

The Bill Babbitt Collection documents nearly ten years of legal efforts to spare Manny Babbitt's life from execution, and two decades of advocacy activities to try to abolish the death penalty.

Summary

Creator:
Babbitt, Bill
Date Coverage:
1970, 1982, 1991-2008
Quantity:
3.32 cubic ft. (about 3.32 boxes)

Bill Babbitt is an activist in the abolition movement. He regularly speaks out against the capital punishment system after promising his younger brother Manny he would campaign to end the death penalty. On May 4, 1999 Bill Babbitt witnessed fifty-year-old Manny Babbitt's execution by the State of California at San Quentin prison.

The sons of an émigré from the Cape Verde Islands off the coast of western Africa, Manny and Bill Babbitt grew up in a family of eight children in Wareham, Massachusetts. Enlisting in the Marines as a teenager, Manny Babbitt served two tours of duty in Vietnam, including fighting at the siege at Khe Sanh in 1968. He later received a Purple Heart for wounds sustained during his military service in 1998, while a prisoner on Death Row.

In the years following his discharge Manny Babbitt lived in Massachusetts and Rhode Island where he suffered from schizophrenia and post-traumatic stress disorder. According to Carbone, he spent time in psychiatric institutions, failed at relationships, lived periodically on the streets, drank and engaged in drug use, and went to prison for committing increasingly violent crimes. He moved in September 1980 to Sacramento, California to be with his brother Bill and sister-in-law Linda. There Manny Babbitt was ultimately tried and convicted of the murder of an elderly woman, Leah Schendel, who died of cardiac arrest after being severely beaten during a robbery in her home in December 1980.

After discovering his brother might be involved in this crime, Bill Babbitt approached the police and assisted them with the arrest of Manny Babbitt. Bill Babbitt states the authorities promised his brother would receive psychological help and placement in a mental health facility rather than on Death Row. In 1982, however, after being found sane and guilty of murder, Manny Babbitt was sentenced to death. According to Doyle, his family strongly believes that his initial lawyers were not competent nor did they offer post-traumatic stress disorder as part of the defense. While Manny Babbitt never denied committing the crime, he stated he could not remember anything about that night.

During the 1990s Manny Babbitt had a new legal defense team dedicated to trying to appeal his conviction, secure a new trial, and spare his life through legal channels. It was led by public defender and lead counsel Jessica McGuire and a fellow Vietnam veteran and trial attorney Chuck Patterson. In addition to Manny and Bill Babbitt's family and supporters, other Vietnam veterans also petitioned California Governor Gray Davis for clemency in this case. Both legal activity and media coverage of the case intensified in the early months of 1999, leading up to Governor Davis denying clemency, several high courts rejecting last minute appeals and intervention, and Manny Babbitt's subsequent execution.

Bill Babbitt continues to campaign against the death penalty and is frequently interviewed on network television news programs, radio stations, major daily newspapers, and magazines. He attends anti-death penalty rallies, testifies before state legislative committees, and often speaks alongside David Kaczynski, the executive director of New Yorkers Against the Death Penalty, before student and legal groups. David Kaczynski assisted federal authorities with the apprehension of his brother Ted Kaczynski, known as the "Unabomber." The documentaries And Then One Night: The Making of Dead Man Walking with Sister Helen Prejean and Mike Farrell and A Question of Justice, also with David Kaczynski, share the story of Bill and Manny Babbitt.

Bill Babbitt is active in several national organizations that oppose capital punishment. He was a board member of Murder Victims' Families for Reconciliation from 2000-2004 and is a founding board member of Murder Victims' Families for Human Rights, where he still serves today.

The Bill Babbitt Collection documents nearly ten years of legal efforts to spare Manny Babbitt's life from execution, and two decades of advocacy activities to try to abolish the death penalty. The bulk of materials are court records from the 1990s related to Manny Babbitt's case. In addition, the collection includes the contents of Manny Babbitt's cell at San Quentin at the time of his execution, correspondence from both Manny and Bill Babbitt, speeches, prison records, materials from death penalty abolitionist organizations and conferences, and news articles about the case and Bill Babbitt's ongoing advocacy work.

The collection is organized into the following series:

This series includes documents related to Bill Babbitt's campaign to end the death penalty. Correspondence, speeches, documents from the organizations Murder Victims' Families for Reconciliation and Murder Victims' Families for Human Rights, pamphlets from various conferences, background information and data on capital punishment, and a printed tribute to Manny Babbitt comprise this series. There also are numerous news articles about Manny and Bill Babbitt spanning the years 1998 through 2008.

All items in this collection were transferred to the M.E. Grenander Department Special Collections and Archives by Bill Babbitt in 2008.

Processed by: Tiffany O'Leary

Collection record created by: This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on

Published: 2017-09-25 23:00:13 -0400

Encoded in EAD by Terese Cavaggioni, 2013

Archival materials can be view in-person during business hours in our reading room, located on the top floor of the Science Library on the Uptown Campus.

We can also deliver digital scans for remote research for a fee.

Access to this record group is unrestricted.

Copyright Statement

The researcher assumes full responsibility for conforming with the laws of copyright. Whenever possible, the M.E. Grenander Department of Special Collections and Archives will provide information about copyright owners and other restrictions, but the legal determination ultimately rests with the researcher. Requests for permission to publish material from this collection should be discussed with the Head of Special Collections and Archives.

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

Identification of specific item, series, box, folder, Bill Babbitt Collection, 1970, 1982, 1991-2008. M.E. Grenander Department of Special Collections and Archives, University Libraries, University at Albany, State University of New York (hereafter referred to as [shortened name]).

Contents of Collection

Quantity: 1.82 cubic ft. (about 1.82 boxes)

Arranged chronologically.

The majority of this series consists of court records from Manny Babbitt's case. There are materials from the District Court for the Eastern District of California, Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, California Supreme Court, and U.S. Supreme Court. The series also contains other legal documents, such as Manny Babbitt's last will and testament, and legal correspondence.

BoxFolderContentsDate

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1 1District Court for the Eastern District of California1991

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1 2Legal Correspondence1991-1999

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1 3California Supreme Court, Petition for writ of Habeas Corpus1992

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1 4District Court for the Eastern District of California1992-1993

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1 5Supreme Court- Reply to Informal Response1993

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1 6-9District Court for the Eastern District of California1995-1996

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2 1District Court for the Eastern District of California1996

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2 2-3District Court for the Eastern District of California request to expand. Exhibits: Vol. I1996

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2 4-6District Court for the Eastern District of California Exhibits: Vol. II1996

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2 7District Court for the Eastern District of California Exhibits: Vol. III1996

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3 1District Court for the Eastern District of California Exhibits: Vol. III1996

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3 2-4District Court for the Eastern District of California1996

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3 5District Court1997

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3 6-8District Court: Vol. I of Appendix to motion to Amend findings1997

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4 1-2District Court: Vol. II of Appendix to motion to Amend findings1997

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4 3District Court: Vol. III of Appendix to motion to Amend findings1997

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4 4District Court for the Eastern District of California1997

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4 5Court of appeals for the 9th Circuit1997-1998

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4 6-7Court of appeals for the 9th Circuit- Source Material1997

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4 8District Court for the Eastern District of California1998

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4 9U.S. Court of appeals for the 9th Circuit1998-1999

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4 10U.S. Supreme Court- Petition for Writ of Certiorari1998

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5 1U.S. Supreme Court1999

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5 2Superior Court of California1999

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5 3Choice of Execution method form1999

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5 4Incomplete Petition for Clemency1999

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5 5-7Supreme Court: Exhibits to Petition for Clemency. Vol. I1999

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5 8-10Supreme Count: Exhibits to Petition for Clemency. Vol. II1999

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6 1Reply to Response to Clemency Petition1999

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6 2Last Will and Testament1999

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6 3California Supreme Court, Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus and Emergency Application for stay of Execution1999

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6 4-5California Supreme Court, Exhibits to Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus and Emergency Application for stay of Execution1999

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6 6Death Certificate1999
Quantity: 0.67 cubic ft. (about 0.67 boxes)

Arranged chronologically.

The series contains the contents of Manny Babbitt's cell at the time of his execution in May 1999 and his original works, including several poems. There also is an empty cardboard box which housed Manny Babbitt's personal items in his cell. Please note that the dates for the series are not inclusive and the bulk of files date from the 1990s.

BoxFolderContentsDate

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1 1Dishcharge Report1970

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1 2Publications1982-1999

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1 3The Battle of Khe Sanh1991

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1 4Legal Correspondence1991-1999

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1 5Personal Correspondence1992-1999

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1 6Khe Sanh Veterans Reunion1993

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1 7Correspondence from State of California or San Quentin1996-1999, Undated

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1 8Copy of Purple Heart Award Certificate1998

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1 9Book excerpts, Poems and Drawings1998, Undated

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1 10Inmate Work Supervisors Time Log1998-1999

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1 11Petition for Clemency1999

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1 12-13Exhibits to Petition for Clemency Vol. II1999

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2 1Exhibits to Petition for Clemency Vol. II1999

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2 2Reply to Response to Clemency Petition1999

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2 3Property Inventory1999

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2 4Personal CorrespondenceUndated

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2 5PhotographsUndated

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2 6The Heart of UnderstandingUndated

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2 7StampsUndated

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3 1Valley of Decision1991

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4 1Empty cardboard box which housed Manny Babbitt's personal items in his cell at San QuentinUndated
Quantity: 0.83 cubic ft. (about 0.83 boxes)

Arranged chronologically.

This series includes documents related to Bill Babbitt's campaign to end the death penalty. Correspondence, speeches, documents from the organizations Murder Victims' Families for Reconciliation and Murder Victims' Families for Human Rights, pamphlets from various conferences, background information and data on capital punishment, and a printed tribute to Manny Babbitt comprise this series. There also are numerous news articles about Manny and Bill Babbitt spanning the years 1998 through 2008.

BoxFolderContentsDate

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1 1Death Penalty Facts1995, 2000, 2005

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1 2Bill and Linda Babbitt Correspondence1995, 1999-2006

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1 3Speeches and Articles1996, 2001, 2006, Undated

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1 4Letters Written by Manuel Babbitt to Bill and Linda Babbitt1997, Undated

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1 5Manny Babbitt Articles1998

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1 6Declaration of William Babbitt May1999

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1 7Tribute to Manny Babbitt (unbound copy)1999

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1 8Tribute to Manny Babbitt (bound copy)1999

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1 9-10Manny Babbitt Articles1999

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1 11Letters to Governor Davis and Mayor Brown1999, Undated

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1 12Religious Views1999, Undated

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1 13News Articles about Death Penalty1999-2001, 2005-2007

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2 1Advocacy Newsletters1999-2008

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2 2Conferences and Events1999-2005

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2 3Manny Babbitt Loaves and Fishes Donations2000

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2 4Manuel Babbitt Information Sheets2000, Undated

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2 5Murder Victims Families for Reconciliation2000-2003, Undated

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2 6Bill and Manny Babbitt Media Coverage2000-2008

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2 7California Death Row Inmates2002

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2 8Campaign for the Nobel Peace Prize for Governor Ryan of Illinois2003

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2 9Understanding Capital Punishment2003

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2 10Capital Defense Handbook2005

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2 11Murder Victims' Families for Human Rights (MVFHR)2005-2007, Undated

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2 12Conferences and Events2006-2008, Undated

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3 1Advocacy Magazines2007

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3 2Bill and Linda Babbitt Correspondence2007-2008, Undated

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3 3Visitor PassesUndated

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3 4Buttons, Stickers and Bumper StickersUndated

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3 5Campaign to End the Death PenaltyUndated

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3 6PhotographsUndated

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3 7Advocacy Pamphlets and BackgroundersUndated

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3 8Bill Babbitt RemarksUndated