Patterico's Pontifications


Fat Psychopathic Leader with Ridiculous Hair Meets…Donald Trump

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 10:26 pm

I decided to skip the obvious joke, to keep you on your toes.

The weird and awkward first handshake is done. Tomorrow begins the yappin’.

Your thoughts below.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.

Say Hello to This Recently Paroled California Murderer

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:59 am

The Metropolitan News-Enterprise gives readers some insight into the insanity that is California’s current penal law with this article about a recent decision of the Court of Appeal:

An inmate who committed first degree murder in 1979 at age 19, and in 2016 was found suitable for parole, will not have to spend additional time in prison based on a later conviction for assault with a deadly weapon on a peace officer, committed when, at age 29, he attacked and nearly killed a guard with a knife, the Court of Appeal for this district has held.

The pendulum swings, and then it swings again. After murderers were routinely released after serving just a few years in the 1970s and 80s, California got tough in the 1990s and 2000s. Most of that has now been reversed in the past 5-10 years as the pendulum swings back. California’s Penal Code section 3051 now provides a chance at parole after 25 years to almost anyone who committed their crimes before age 25 — including most murderers. The provision invalidated assurances that I had given families over the years (although I always said you never know what the California legislature will do next) that the man who killed their son will never have a chance at parole — now that that man had been convicted of murder and sentenced to a term where his first parole date would come up long after he was dead.

At issue in this case was the question whether section 3051 effectively invalidates, in certain cases, another provision that requires consecutive sentences for crimes committed in prison. Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Halim Dhanidina, sitting on assignment in Div. Three, authored the opinion, which mandates the immediate release of Ronald Jenson. I haven’t taken the time this morning to examine the interplay between the two statutory provisions at issue to see whether I agree with the decision or not, but the fact that someone like this can be paroled is eye-opening. The story prompted me to look up the decision. The dissent contains this passage:

In 1979 a jury convicted petitioner Ronald Jenson of the first degree murder of L.C. Walker with a shotgun. The presiding commissioner at Jenson’s April 2016 parole hearing summarized the facts of the crime: “A 64-year old male victim was fatally shot at a gas station. It was reported that he was visiting the gas station attendant who was sitting inside the gas station watching television. According to the attendant, four males entered the gas station with weapons in their possession. Mr. Jenson, who had a shotgun, pressed the weapon into the victim’s side, and another suspect was holding a handgun nearby. The victims were told to sit down and not move. The victim who was killed had a revolver in his pocket, and told the suspects why don’t you kids go on away from here. And his hand came out of his pocket with the handle of the gun visible, at which point the shotgun was fired striking the victim. ․ The victim died from his injuries.” The trial court sentenced Jenson to life with a minimum eligible parole date of 27 years (25 years to life for the first degree murder plus two years for his use of a firearm under the then-applicable version of Penal Code section 12022.5 15 ).

While in prison, Jenson committed three more felonies. He committed two of those crimes—escape without force and manufacture or possession of a deadly weapon by an inmate—during his first year in prison. Jenson was 21 at the time. Then, in 1989, Jenson was charged with assault with a deadly weapon on a peace officer. Jenson was 29 when he committed that offense. Jenson spoke about the crime at his April 2016 parole hearing. Jenson said the officer had used a racial slur in referring to Jenson’s mother and his wife. The officer “told [Jenson] what he was going to do to them sexually.” Jenson continued, “And unfortunately at that time, I lost my cool and I went and got a knife, and I stabbed him and he almost lost his life.”

The Marin County District Attorney filed charges. On November 29, 1989, Jenson entered into a plea agreement with the People. Jenson pleaded guilty to the charge. The court sentenced him to the agreed-upon term of five years in the state prison, to be served consecutively to the life term. The People struck an enhancement on the assault with a deadly weapon count and dismissed a second count as part of the plea deal.

In late 2014, the parole board granted Jenson parole. However, in March 2015, Governor Brown reversed the board’s decision. The Governor described Jenson’s murder of Walker as “senseless.” The Governor continued, “Mr. Jenson’s conduct in prison demonstrates an inability to control his temper and abide by the rules. He has been disciplined for serious misconduct 48 times and less serious misconduct 42 times. Ten of his serious disciplinary actions were for violent behavior including stabbing a correctional officer in the neck, attempting to stab staff, assaulting an inmate, stabbing an inmate, spitting in staff members’ faces, fighting with another inmate, and possession of inmate-manufactured weapons.” The Governor commended Jenson for his “efforts to improve himself during his 36 years of incarceration.” However, in reversing the board’s decision to parole Jenson, the Governor noted Jenson’s “extensive criminal history and many violent acts while incarcerated.” This court denied Jenson’s petition for a writ of habeas corpus challenging the Governor’s decision.

As noted, Jenson had another parole hearing on April 29, 2016. At the hearing, Jenson insisted he did not commit the 1979 murder of Walker. He had been, he said, falsely accused and wrongly convicted. Jenson stated a man named James Downey had fingered him for the crime because of a dispute over a woman. Jenson also said Walker’s friend, eyewitness Walter Diggs, had not positively identified him and had been led by the prosecutor in his testimony at trial.17 In addition, Jenson blamed his co-defendant for testifying against him.

At the 2016 parole hearing, the deputy district attorney representing the People asked the commissioners to question Jenson about custodial counseling chronological documentations (so-called CDC-128-A’s) he received in 2007, 2009, and 2010 for disobeying direct orders of corrections personnel. The district attorney argued against parole for Jenson, stating, “[Jenson] has continued since he was a youth through the transition period into adulthood to violate rules in prison. He has an extremely, for a long time, bad record in prison. I would argue 2007, 2009, 2010 are a continuation.”

Today, he can move in next door to you.

Yay California!

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]

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