Phyllis Loya

Phyllis lost her son, a Pittsburg police officer, on April 25, 2005.  Here is her story.

Phyllis LoyaMy life was forever altered on April 23, 2005, when my son, Pittsburg Police Officer Larry Lasater, was shot when he was ambushed during a foot pursuit of two robbers who had just committed an armed robbery of a Raley’s Market and Wells Fargo Bank. Although Larry was pronounced brain dead the following day, he remained on life support until April 25 so that his wishes to be an organ donor could be honored. Larry made the magnificent gift of life and saved the lives of five recipients.

At the time of his murder, Larry and his beautiful wife, Jo Ann, were eagerly awaiting the birth of their first child. My grandson was born 2½ months after his father was murdered.

Larry lived his life with a profound sense of duty. After graduating from UC Davis, he devoted the next six years of his life to serving his country as a Marine officer, attaining the rank of Captain. He was a Tank Commander and his last active duty assignment was as a Series Commander at the Marine Recruit Training Depot in San Diego. Although he continued to be an active reservist, he left active duty to enter law enforcement to protect and serve his community.

Larry LasaterWhat more could my son have possibly given the citizens of California after serving his country through his service in the Corps, losing his life serving his community, and being an organ donor? Therefore, I do not hesitate to ask those same citizens he protected to ensure that he receives the justice that a California jury and judge determined was appropriate for his murder, and support our efforts to reform the death penalty in California for Larry, the other 42 law enforcement officers, 230 child victims, and hundreds of other innocent victims slain by death row killers.

My son’s killer, Alexander Hamilton, was sentenced to death November 2, 2007; however, his appellate attorney was not even appointed until May 25, 2011. Since counsel was appointed, there have been nine extensions granted for the appellate attorney to file the first appellate brief on behalf of the appellant. The projected date for the filing of the initial appellate brief is now February 28, 2014, which is almost 6½ years from the date sentencing was pronounced; getting to this first step in the appellate process is just one example of the intolerable delays in carrying out the sentence. This is indicative of why families of victims murdered by death row inmates wait decades for justice for their loved ones.

There is absolutely no question as to his killer’s guilt: At trial he did not even contest that he killed my son while my son was performing his duties as a police officer or that the killing was done in the commission of a robbery, either of them being a special circumstance making him eligible for the death penalty. He only contested a third special circumstance of lying in wait and attempted murder of two other police officers. The jury found him guilty of all charges, including attempted murder of the two officers that he repeatedly shot at as they tried to render aid to my dying son.

I am 65 years old and suffer from heart disease and probably will not live to see my son’s killer executed, but I am committed to fighting this battle for death penalty reform now so that my son will receive justice.