Prop 57 casts cloud over family of murdered Madera teen, killer could be released

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- The family of a Madera murder victim thought they'd gotten closure, but new laws have created the potential for a killer's release.

"It's like digging up something that's buried," said Russ Pike.

Brittany Navarra was 16 years old when she orchestrated the murder of his daughter, Krista Pike, who she perceived as a romantic rival.

Krista Rae's life ended without warning in 2008 because of a twisted plot by two teens.

More than a decade after the murder, her family finally felt like their lives were coming back together.

"We've kind of moved forward," said Russ Pike. "We still have moments with get-togethers and memories where Krista's vacant."

The vacancy can never be filled, but justice came when a judge sentenced Brittany Navarra.

16-year-old, Navarra directed the murder eventually carried out by 18-year-old Dustin Gran.

In 2015, she went to prison for life without parole.

But a few weeks ago, the Pikes got word there's a possibility Navarra will get out this year after serving just four years in prison.

"(We were) pretty much shocked," Russ said. "(Krista's mother) Stacie and I and the family were prepared to do this maybe 20 years down the line."

Prop 57 changed the rules when it comes to juvenile defendants.

Prosecutors used to be able to file cases directly to adult criminal courts, but now they have to convince a judge the crime was serious enough and the teenager was sophisticated enough to face trial as an adult.

It's called a fitness hearing and because Navarra hadn't wrapped up her appeals by the time Prop 57 became law, she gets one.

If the judge decides she should've been tried as a juvenile, the case reverts to juvenile court, and she gets out of prison because she's now 27 and juveniles don't stay locked up past age 25.

"We've suffered a loss and now we have to go through this trial period again somewhat," Pike said. "All of the memories are being brought back up and we have to relive the things we've tried to put in the past."

Legal analyst Tony Capozzi says the process is now fairer for juveniles, but tough on victim's families even though he says Pike's family shouldn't have to worry.

"In this particular case, I don't think there's going to be any change whatsoever," Capozzi said of Navarra's status. "The crime in this case was just gruesome. It was sensational. It was just out of the ordinary in what happened to her."

Navarra's case is scheduled in court in three weeks, but her fitness hearing isn't on the calendar yet.

Madera County district attorney Sally Moreno has vowed to fight it to the end. Her office hasn't had any fitness hearings before resulting from Prop 57.

Fresno County has two cases where juvenile defendants got convicted as adults and new fitness hearings are now pending.

The district attorney's office did fitness hearings on all the juveniles whose cases were still pending when Prop 57 became law and every defendant ended up certified for trial as an adult.
Related topics:
Copyright © 2019 KFSN-TV. All Rights Reserved.