“The Devil and the Death Penalty” recounts the crimes, arrest, trial and appeals of Lawrence Bittaker, a convicted serial murderer and rapist who has lived on San Quentin’s Death Row since 1981. In 1979, Bittaker, and his accomplice Roy Norris, known as the Tool Box Killers, kidnapped, raped, tortured and murdered five teenage girls.
Called “worse than Manson” by Stephen Kay, former Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney , Bittaker was prosecuted by Kay during a sensational trial, which was the first trial to ever allow television cameras into a California courtroom. Thirty years later, Lawrence Bittaker’s seemingly endless appeals underline the state’s utterly dysfunctional death penalty appeals process.
The documentary includes interviews with Kay and witnesses, case files, court documents and photographs. ‘The Devil and the Death Penalty’ uses the Bittaker case to examine the death penalty process itself, both realistically and philosophically to explain exactly what happens in California to most condemned defendants.
‘The Devil and the Death Penalty’ is the directorial debut of investigative journalist Philip D. Gibbons. The production team includes Tina Imahara and Darius Fisher, who previously collaborated on the Sundance award winner, ‘Fuel’ and official Cannes Film festival selection, ‘The Big Fix.’
This provocative film will focus attention on an issue in California that will eventually be magnified into national and international prominence.