Despite objections from local law enforcement and the district attorney’s office, Thursday a state Parole Board commission recommended that a man convicted of murdering a San Diego police officer nearly 40 years ago be released from prison, The San Diego Union-Tribune reported.
Jesus Cecena, who was 17 years old when he shot and killed Officer Archie Buggs in 1978, is now 55 serving a life sentence at Valley State Prison in Chowchilla.
Thursday’s decision marks the third time since 2014 that a Parole Board has cleared the way for Cecena to be released, according to the U-T. In the past Gov. Jerry Brown has overturned the release recommendations and now he will have to decide again whether to allow the aging Cecena to walk free.
The commission pointed to several reasons it recommends Cecena’s release. “He was a juvenile at the time and commissioners considered his lack of maturity when he shot Buggs,” the U-T reported.
The commission also found that Cecena is no longer a threat to public safety, and that he has “trained for jobs, received consistently laudatory assessments by prison officials, and been active in prison programs,” the U-T reported.
The recommendation will be reviewed by the state and then Brown will weigh in, the U-T report continued.
Cecena was convicted and sentenced on August 22, 1979 to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Because he was a juvenile at the time of the killing, a change in the law in 2014 made Cecena eligible to receive Youthful Offender Consideration, according to the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office. In April 2014, his release was approved by the parole board but Governor Jerry Brown later overturned the panel’s recommendation in September. Cecena’s release continues to be opposed by San Diego Police Chief Shelley Zimmerman, District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis, and the San Diego Police Officers Association.
San Diego County Chief Deputy District Attorney Summer Stephan, who attended Thursday’s four-hour Parole Board hearing, told the U-T afterward that the D.A.’s office will raise appeals to the governor.
Stephan said, “We are going to continue to fight this.”
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