A 58-year-old man who has spent decades behind bars in connection with the brutal 1980 murder of a developmentally disabled individual who was brutalized and buried alive is now eligible for release, according to the Associated Press.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom did not take action Friday regarding the state parole board's choice to grant parole to David Weidert, his office said Monday, meaning that the murderer is now eligible for release, according to the outlet.
Weidert got a life sentence for slaying 20-year-old Michael Morganti to conceal a $500 burglary, according to the AP.
The governor, who is currently facing a recall election, blocked the killer's parole last year noting that the man "currently poses an unreasonable danger to society if released from prison at this time," according to the outlet. But this year the governor accepted the determination of the Board of Parole Hearings "which determined that he does not pose a current unreasonable risk to public safety," his office said Monday.
The victim's sister Vikki Van Duyne said that she was shocked and distraught after attending 11 parole hearings through the years to stand against Weidert's release.
"I didn't think the governor would think that things had changed in 13 months from the time when he said no last time, because I didn't see anything change," she said regarding the governor's decision, according to the AP.
The outlet reported that according to a hearing transcript, parole commissioners weighed Weidert's youthful immaturity, dearth of a criminal record at the time, and good behavior during lock up against what they characterized as "an incredibly gruesome, violent, horrific murder" in concluding that the man no longer represents a risk.
Morganti had been a look-out while Weidert perpetrated the burglary. Weidert, who was 17-years-old, murdered Morganti after he talked to law enforcement, prosecutors have said previously, according to the AP.
Weidert and an accomplice lured the victim into a vehicle, transported him to an isolated location, and compelled him to dig his own grave, according to the AP. They utilized a baseball bat and shovel to beat Morganti, stabbed the man with a knife, and choked him using a telephone wire — the murder victim suffocated after he had been buried alive, according to the outlet.
"Mr. Weidert understands the gravity of his crime and the permanent seriousness of the consequences to the victim and the victim's family. He's somebody who has always emphasized his remorse and his acceptance of responsibility," Weidert's attorney Charles Carbone said, according to the outlet. "This is about promoting public safety, and Mr. Weidert has earned his way out by pursuing a very long and arduous path of rehabilitation."