Gov. Gavin Newsom blocks release of Fresno County man who killed developmentally disabled 20-year-old

Sunday, January 12, 2020
Gov. Newsom blocks release of Fresno Co. murderer David Weidert
In November 1980, David Weidert lured 20-year-old Mike Morganti out of his apartment and tortured him for 45 minutes before stabbing him, strangling him, and burying him alive.

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- California Governor Gavin Newsom has blocked the parole release of David Weidert, who murdered a developmentally disabled Clovis man more than 39 years ago.

In November 1980, Weidert lured 20-year-old Mike Morganti out of his apartment and tortured him for 45 minutes before stabbing him and strangling him.

Morganti was then forced to dig his own grave, and as he went up to grasp for life one more time, Weidert pushed his head back down into the dirt.

The killing was after Morganti spoke to law enforcement about a burglary committed by Weidert in which he had used Morganti as a lookout.

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After the killing, Weidert was convicted of first-degree murder and was sentenced to life in prison.

This is the third time Weidert's release has been blocked by a governor. In 2015 and again in 2018, Governor Jerry Brown reversed the board's decision, saying he was shocked by Weidert's explanations for his callous and violent acts.

But in August last year, the parole board granted David Weidert a release date for the third time.

After Newsom's decision to block the release on Friday, Morganti's sister Vicki Vanduyne expressed her relief.

"Mom and I started crying. I couldn't see through the tears," she said.

She said each hearing has been nerve-wracking for her and her family.

"We go back so often for parole hearings. It's a huge burden on the families," she said.

Fresno county district attorney Lisa Smittcamp is also against the killer's release. In a statement, she said, "Today is a great day for justice in the State of California... Newsom's concurrence with Brown's prior reversals reaffirms the fact that Weidert deserves the sentence he received."

The victim's family is thankful for everyone, including the district attorney, who sent letters to Newsom in hopes of keeping the killer behind bars.

Assemblymember Jim Patterson was one of the people to send a letter to the governor against the release of Weidert.

He says since Weidert was young when he committed the crime and has served several years, he's automatically eligible for parole.

"They're working on the automatic decision to parole whether young age or old age, without a heavy weight of consideration to the heinous act and without consideration to how many times this individual has come up and has overridden the decision," Patterson said.

He says he, along with other legislators, are looking into possible legislation changes to close loopholes within the Board of Parole to help victims like Morganti's family.

Until there are any changes, the Morganti family will have to soon go through heartbreak again as they say Weidert will have another parole hearing in August.