'Onion Field Killer' Gregory Powell denied compassionate release

October 18, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
The state parole board late Tuesday denied a request from a terminally-ill, convicted cop killer, who wants to die at home with his family. Gregory Powell kidnapped two Los Angeles police officers back in 1963, and shot one of them to death in a Bakersfield onion field.

"Gregory Powell showed no compassion when he murdered my uncle and took away the husband to my young, beautiful aunt, leaving her widowed with two young daughters," Ian Campbell's great niece Stephanie La Pilusa said.

It's been nearly 50 years since that horrific crime that grabbed national headlines: the murder of Officer Ian Campbell, who was kidnapped from a Hollywood street in 1963 after a traffic stop and murdered in a Bakersfield onion field by Powell and an accomplice.

Even with the passage of time, his family still finds it painful to keep fighting the release of Powell, who is one of the oldest serving inmates in California at 77 years old and is dying from prostate cancer.

Officer Cliff Armas read a letter from Campbell's two daughters, who are clearly tired of having to relive what they call a nightmare during 12 hearings over the years.

"The legal system puts the rights of convicted murderers well before that of their victims," Armas said.

Powell is frail and has less than six months to live. Now serving a life with parole term, his condition qualified him to have his sentence recalled under California's compassionate release law and let go with no strings attached.

"We definitely don't want him on the streets, he doesn't deserve to be on the streets, my grandfather deserves to be on the streets and he's not," Campbell's granddaughter Andrea Moniz said.

But the Board of Parole Hearings denied Powell's compassionate release, saying he still poses a risk to public safety because he doesn't follow prison rules.

Compassionate release supporters say Powell and other terminal inmates should be released because everyone, cop killer or not, deserves to die with their family with them.

"We created compassionate release as a state because we believe that there's a time in which people's human rights and people's right to die or live the remainder of their lives with dignity is more important," Youth Justice Coalition spokesperson Kim McGill said.

Powell is the only survivor of those involved in the crime. His accomplice died in prison. Campbell's partner, who escaped from the onion field, died in 1994.


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