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Victim's Family Calls On Governor Brown To Block Killer's Parole

Alisha Gallon, Office of Jim Patterson

The family of a Clovis murder victim, Fresno law enforcement and politicians are in Sacramento today calling on Governor Jerry Brown to stop the parole of a convicted murderer.

David Weidert is up for parole for the 1980 murder of 20-year old Mike Morganti who was beaten with a baseball bat and buried alive for allegedly planning to testify against Weidert in another case.

Prosecutors say Weidert forced Morganti to dig is own grave.

Opponents of his release say the crime is too extreme to allow him to be paroled.

While speaking on the steps of the capitol, Assemblyman Jim Patterson, who represents parts of Clovis and Fresno, called on the Governor to block the parole.

“The heinous act that he perpetrated requires that he stay in prison. So we are asking the Governor, in that moment when the pen is ready and the paper is prepared to sign his name to keep this killer in prison,” Patterson said.

Weidert was given a life sentence but is up for parole under new rules that allow for the release of inmates who have served at least 25 years and are over the age of 60.

Supporters of the release program say elderly inmates ‘age out’ of violent criminal behavior. The program is also part of an effort to relieve overcrowding in California prisons.

Mohammed Shehk with the anti-prison group Critical Resistance says the program should even be expanded, lowering the release age to 50 and the number of years served to 15.

“We have seen that Californians with the passage of pro 47 are really calling for and are showing that they want a move to ‘de-carcerate’. And that they want less people in prison,” Shehk said.

Fresno County DA Lisa Smittcamp says she is also wary of releasing inmates who have been incarcerated most of their life.

“You are taking a person who went to prison many years ago and clearly had many issues functioning in society, and this person has been incarcerated for this many years, and to put him out again in society is putting us all at risk,” Smittcamp said.

Governor Brown has the final say on if Weidert will be paroled or not.

Jeffrey Hess is a reporter and Morning Edition news host for Valley Public Radio. Jeffrey was born and raised in a small town in rural southeast Ohio. After graduating from Otterbein University in Columbus, Ohio with a communications degree, Jeffrey embarked on a radio career. After brief stops at stations in Ohio and Texas, and not so brief stops in Florida and Mississippi, Jeffrey and his new wife Shivon are happy to be part Valley Public Radio.