Victim's aunt outraged baby killer set to be released in Calif.

June 21, 2013 8:12:44 PM PDT
A convicted baby killer is about to be set free after a court reversed Governor Jerry Brown's decision to deny parole.

"You just can't let crazy, wild, immoral people on the street to hurt others," Marcie Honkanen said.

Honkanen is outraged. 51-year-old Chris Fowler, the convicted killer of her nephew baby Aaron back in 1983, is about to be paroled after three decades in prison.

In the small quiet town of Woodland near Sacramento, the then 22-year-old shook his girlfriend's son violently, dropping him to the floor twice to stop his crying.

A California appellate court this week cast aside Governor Brown's 2011 decision to block Fowler's parole and sided with the Parole Board to release him.

"I'm not only disappointed, but I'm in fear for the public," Honkanen said. "You know, Chris Fowler is a baby murderer."

In reviewing the case and denying parole, Governor Brown believes Fowler is a substantial risk to society.

But the court felt Fowler's prison record showing him to be a good prisoner, participating in rehabilitative programs, and psychiatric evaluations that deemed him a low risk of re-offending weren't given adequate weight.

Mike Vitiello, a law professor at the McGeorge School of Law, hasn't reviewed the case intimately but knows that by law, parole boards cannot just look at the crime.

"One of the things that they can consider is how horrible the crime was, but that alone cannot be sufficient because there are many people who have committed violent crimes who don't represent a continued risk to the public," Vitiello said.

Crime victims group are upset that an initiative that won voter approval giving governors the authority to block the paroles of serious criminals is being weakened by the courts.

"We're hoping that we won't see much more of this," said Christine Ward with the Crime Victims Action Alliance. "But it does undermine the Governor's authority ultimately, and he is supposed to the final say when it comes to parole."

Baby Aaron's aunt wrote a letter to Governor Brown this week and hopes he keeps Fowler in prison.

"To intervene, to do what he did last time, to block it," Honkanen said. "He's a danger to society."

Governor Brown's office says it is still reviewing the case. If the Governor does want to step in, he'll have to ask the California Supreme Court for a hearing and be granted one.


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