Murder victim's family requests leniency for killer

FRESNO, Calif.

/*Andre Ruff*/ walked out of a Fresno County courtroom on his way to life in prison. It's a walk he shouldn't be making, according to the sister of one of his two murder victims.

"Andre, by speaking with your mother over the course of this, I come to the opinion that the system failed you," said Doreen Hackett. "You needed help."

Hackett's brother, Maurice, was Ruff's first victim in Nov. 2010. The disabled 52-year-old had just walked out of the Westside Market in Southwest Fresno when Ruff stabbed him. Ruff laid low after the murder, living with his 70-year-old aunt, Fairy Miles. But less than three weeks later, he killed her too.

Ruff's immediate family says mental illness drove him to violence. They say he was committed to a mental health institution four times before his arrest. After his arrest, Ruff told police he heard voices in his head. A judge found him mentally incompetent twice and suspended criminal proceedings. But prosecutors say it was meth -- not mental illness -- that spurred the murders.

"That meth addiction, the results of that meth addiction, caused him to kill two helpless people -- one who was disabled, the other who was helping this young man by giving him a place to live," said deputy district attorney Lynmarc Jenkins.

Several family members told Action News Ruff is faking his mental problems. Still, Doreen Hackett stared her brother's killer in the eye and delivered her own personal pardon.

"I do forgive you," Hackett said. "I do."

But the courts weren't as forgiving. Ruff will serve two life sentences. He'll be eligible for parole after 32 years, when he's 58 years old.

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