California governor commutes 9 lengthy prison sentences

Gov. Jerry Brown discusses his revised state budget plan during a Capitol news conference in Sacramento, Calif., Monday, May 14, 2012. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

California Gov. Jerry Brown has commuted the lengthy prison sentences of nine inmates serving time for violent crimes, including a former prostitute convicted with her abusive pimp of first-degree murder.

She and five other convicted killers were among those who received commutations Friday.

Seven of the nine inmates must still persuade state parole authorities they are fit for release.

Brown has granted 18 applications to shorten prison sentences since he returned to office in January 2011.

The governor's office says inmates who display exemplary behavior can ask the governor to reduce their prison sentences.

Those receiving commutations Friday:

- Florence Anderson. Anderson was convicted of murder and sentenced to 25 years to life in 2002. She was with her abusive pimp when he stabbed to death and robbed a man in a Humboldt County motel room.

Anderson helps care for terminally ill inmates and lives in the prison's "honor" dorm.

Brown cited her "limited role" in the murder, her past abuse and work inside prison as reasons to let her appear before the California Board of Parole Hearings earlier than originally scheduled.

- Christopher Edwin Asay. Asay was convicted of first-degree murder in San Bernardino County for fatally shooting and robbing a courier in 1987. He was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Brown said Asay earned college degrees while in prison. Brown said Asay works as reader for the blind and has the support of members of the Mormon Church. Utah Gov. Gary Herbert supports his release from prison and Asay plans to live in the state.

Asay is now eligible for parole.

- Hamid Basil Bashir. Bashir was sentenced to 25 years to life in 2002 for second-degree murder in Los Angeles. In 1998, when Bashir was 18, he and a group of friends robbed a store. One of Bashir's friends fatally shot the manager.

Brown cited Bashir's "deep remorse." Bashir earned a high school diploma and trained to be a paralegal while in prison. Former Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan has offered Bashir a job and housing.

Bashir is now eligible for parole.

- Paul Carrillo. Carrillo was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole for killing a taxi driver in 1981 in Riverside County to steal his car.

Brown said Carrillo has participated in numerous prison programs. He is an inmate Native American spiritual adviser and assists chaplains performing Indian spiritual rites.

Carrillo is now eligible for parole.

- Travielle Craig. Craig was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole in 1993 for robbing and killing a man in Los Angeles County.

Brown said Craig has "dramatically changed his life while in prison." He has earned a high school diploma, mentors at-risk youth and is a Bible counselor.

Craig is now eligible for parole.

- DeAngelo McVay. McVay participated in the kidnap and torture of a drug dealer in Los Angeles County and was sentenced to life without parole in 1999.

Brown cited the support of McVay's prison warden and has avoided gangs and drugs during his incarceration. He is a rescue dog trainer and Bible counselor.

McVay is now eligible for parole.

- John Paul Rodriguez. Rodriguez was sentenced to 22 years in prison in 2010 for attempted murder in Los Angeles County. Rodriguez was sentenced to shooting and wounding a man who he challenged to a fight in a nightclub. He was 17 years old at the time.

Brown said Rodriguez dropped out of his gang in prison, earned a high school diploma and three associate degrees. He is a literacy tutor and has participated in numerous prison programs.

Brown reduced Rodriguez' sentence to nine years.

- Mary Elizabeth Stroder. Stroder was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole after she was convicted in 1995 of first-degree murder in Kern County. She and her boyfriend kidnapped a shopper. The boyfriend fatally shot the victim after robbing her.

Brown said 7,000 people have signed a petition supporting her release. She has a job and housing waiting for her.

Stroder is now eligible for parole.

- Raul Zarate. Zarate was sentenced to 16 years in prison in 2010 for attempted murder in Los Angeles County. Zarate was convicted of shooting two strangers he got into a dispute with when he was 17-years-old.

Brown said Zarate has not been disciplined for misconduct while incarcerated. He has participated in numerous prison programs. The Library of Congress has certified his as a Braille transcriber.

Brown reduced Zarate's sentence to nine years.

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