California Bill Would Release Murderers Sentenced to Death or Life without the Possibility of Parole

Originally published April 13, 2023 7:00 am PDT

The California Senate Public Safety Committee voted on Tuesday to advance a Democrat-led bill that would potentially allow some of the state’s most notorious murderers, currently serving death or life without parole sentences, to become eligible for parole, California Globe reports.

Senate Bill 94, introduced by Senator Dave Cortese (D-Santa Clara), targets criminals convicted of murder with special circumstances before June 5, 1990.

Under the proposed legislation, those eligible would be provided with a public defender to petition for recall and resentencing.

The bill empowers the court to modify the inmate’s sentence, apply any changes in the law that reduce sentences, provide for judicial discretion, or vacate the conviction and impose judgment on a lesser included offense.

Tiequon Cox, who was sentenced to death for the 1984 murder of a mother, her daughter, and two of her grandchildren in a botched gang revenge killing, is one of the potential beneficiaries of the bill, California Globe notes.

While on death row, Cox stabbed another condemned murderer and nearly escaped with three other inmates after cutting a hole in the San Quentin fence.

SB 94 has gained support from Democrat Senators Josh Becker (D-San Mateo), Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley), Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco), and Assemblywoman Corrie Jackson (D-Riverside) and Assemblywoman Akilah Weber (D-San Diego), who have co-authored the legislation.

The measure would affect criminals convicted of first-degree murder with special circumstances, including those who killed multiple victims or committed murder alongside rape, robbery, kidnapping, or torture.

Despite the severity of these crimes, Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascón, Alameda County DA Pamela Price, and California Attorney General Rob Bonta have all expressed support for releasing such murderers after serving 15-20 years in prison.

Criticizing the bill, the California body’s Republican leader, Assemblyman James Gallagher, said the legislation is a “slap in the face to victims, who were told that these people would go away for life without the possibility of parole.”

“And with California’s track record right now, these are people who are going to end up being released, who committed murders, rapes, unfathomable crimes against Californians,” Gallagher went on to say. “It’s a dangerous and completely unthinkable policy.”

Not all of the state’s Democrats agree with the bill.

“The people supporting this should really be ashamed of themselves,” said Jonathan Hatami, a deputy district attorney in Los Angeles running to replace DA Gascon. “I’m a Democrat, and I’m 100% against this. I’m also a dad and a caring human being.”

Read the bill below: