Appeals court refuses to halt release of convicted murderer

The Associated Press
Saturday June 23, 2001

LOS ANGELES — An appeals court refused Friday to reverse a judge’s ruling granting parole to a gay man who gunned down his boyhood friend 16 years ago. 

The state immediately appealed to the California Supreme Court. 

In ordering Robert Rosenkrantz’s release from prison, Superior Court Judge Paul Gutman had ruled Thursday that Gov. Gray Davis has an unlawful blanket policy of denying parole to murderers. 

Rosenkrantz’s supporters say he has rehabilitated himself during his time behind bars, but Davis maintains he remains a threat to society. 

“We don’t think Mr. Rosenkrantz should be given parole,” Deputy Attorney General Robert Wilson said of the state’s reason for appealing. 

It wasn’t immediately clear how soon the California Supreme Court would act on the case after the 2nd District Court of Appeals’ rejection. If the state loses again, Rosenkrantz’s attorney said he expects his client will be freed. 

“We hope he will be released, we’re demanding it and there is an order,” Donald Specter said. 

Rosenkrantz, 33, was sentenced to 17 years to life for the 1985 murder of a boyhood friend who had revealed his homosexuality to Rosenkrantz’s father. He shot 17-year-old Steven Redman 10 times with a semiautomatic weapon. 

Rosenkrantz has been a model prisoner and become an expert with computers during his years in prison. Several lawmakers and even the judge who sentenced him have lobbied for his release. 

In his ruling Thursday, Gutman said there was no evidence to support Davis’ contention that Rosenkrantz is a threat. 

“While the governor is entitled to express his opinion, the opinion itself must be factually supported and it is not,” the judge ruled. 

Gutman further found that Davis denies parole to murderers “regardless of any extenuating circumstances,” a policy the judge said amounts to “actual bias against an entire class of cases.” 

Barry Goode, Davis’ legal affairs secretary, reiterated the governor’s contention that he does not arbitrarily rule against granting murderers parole. 

Since taking office in 1999, Davis has reversed the state Board of Prison Terms on 47 of 48 cases in which it granted parole to murders. The one exception was for Rose Ann Parker, who shot her abusive boyfriend in 1986 after he threatened to kill her and her son. She was released in December. Rosenkrantz, who is incarcerated at the California Men’s Colony in San Luis Obispo, was given a release date by the Board of Prison Terms after two courts ruled the board had abused its discretion in denying him freedom. Davis vetoed that decision last October, citing the viciousness of the crime.