Appellate court overturns Governor Browns decision

June 23, 2013 12:00:19 AM PDT
An appellate court overturned Governor Brown's decision to keep a convicted baby killer in prison, ordering he be released on parole.

The decision angered victims' advocate groups.The judges had to look at not only at the crime but his last three decades in prison.

Marcie Honkanen is outraged. Fifty-one-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.

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

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 parole and sided with the parole board to release him.

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

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.

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

"One of the things 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 the public." said Vitiello,

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

Baby Aaron's aunt wrote a letter to the governor this week and hopes he keeps fowler in prison.

Governor Brown's office says it is still reviewing the case. If the governor wants to intervene, he will have to be granted a hearing form the California Supreme Court.


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