In February 1941, thirty male San Quentin prisoners petitioned Governor Culbert Levy Olson of California (the state's first Democrat governor in the twentieth century) to stop the execution of Eithel Leta Juanita Spinelli, “a merciless gang leader called the Duchess,” who had been convicted, along with her common-law husband and another male accomplice, of the murder of nineteen-year-old Robert Sherrard. All three defendants were sentenced to die in the gas chamber. Former San Quentin warden, Clinton T. Duffy, remembered Spinelli as “the coldest, hardest character, male or female” that he had “ever known,” and utterly lacking in “feminine appeal.” Thus the presentation of a jailhouse petition to save her from the gas chamber rather perplexed him, and he remained firm in his belief that the majority of San Quentin's inmates were unconcerned by the impending execution. Nonetheless, the petitioners argued that Spinelli should not be executed and offered to take her place either in the death chamber, or to serve out her life term in the event of a commutation of sentence. According to Duffy, the prisoners asserted “that Mrs. Spinelli's execution would be repulsive to the people of California; that no woman in her right mind could commit the crime charged to her; that the execution of a woman would hurt California in the eyes of the world; that both the law and the will of the people were against the execution; that Mrs. Spinelli, as the mother of three children, should have special consideration; that California's proud record of never having executed a woman should not be spoiled”.