Man Convicted Of Double-Murder Approved For Parole Eligibility, Prosecutors Barred From Hearing Under LA’s New Laws

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Brianna Lyman News and Commentary Writer
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A man who was convicted for shooting and killing two teenagers at a party in Los Angeles more than three decades ago was approved for parole eligibility by the state on Wednesday during a hearing that prosecutors were not allowed to attend, according to Fox 11.

Howard Elwin Jones was convicted for the December 1988 murders of 18-year-old Chris Baker and another boy at a party in Rowland Heights, according to the report. He’s been imprisoned at San Quentin state prison since 1991, Fox 11 reported.

Jones, who was allegedly part of a gang at the time of the murder and almost 18-years-old, showed up to the party armed with a gun and confronted a boy who was wearing a red Santa hat which Jones thought was a symbol of the bloods gang, Baker’s family told Fox 11.

Jones, Howard E #E83779 photo taken 10.11.2019 [Photo Courtesy: California Department of Corrections]

Jones, Howard E #E83779 photo taken 10.11.2019 [Photo Courtesy: California Department of Corrections]

“The boy said, please don’t shoot me, and started to walk away,” Dianne Baker-Taylor, Baker’s sister, said. “And that’s when Mr. Jones fired at him, and the rowed dispersed and as they dispersed, my brother, in the chaos, ended up running alongside [the boy], and they both died as a result of their injuries.”

Jones was denied parole in both 2015 and 2017 but was found suitable for parole by the state on Wednesday, according to Fox 11.

Jones is eligible for youth offender parole but the proposal for parole is not final, the California Department of Corrections told the Daily Caller in a statement. Grants of parole suitability are also subject to a 120 day review period, with the first 90 days meant for review by the Board of Parole Hearings staff. The final 30 days are for the governor to decide whether to uphold, reverse or modify the grant, according to the Department of Corrections. The governor can also send it to the full board to review or take no action.

Prosecutors, however, were barred from the hearing or advocating against Jones’ release due to new reforms from Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascón’s reforms, according to the report.

“To not have that today made a huge difference,” Baker-Taylor told the outlet. “We felt like we were on our own little island.”

Special advisor to Gascón, Alex Bastian, told Fox 11 that after spending more than three decades in prison, the “parole board has determined that this individual is not the same person as when he was 17.” (RELATED: Los Angeles DA Vows To End Cash Bail, Stop Death Penalty As Citywide Shootings, Murders On The Rise)

“In any case where any individual committed a crime as a 17-year-old, the Parole Board will take into consideration the fact that a teenager’s behavioral and cognitive abilities were not fully developed when he committed the crime.”

Gascón issued a directive in December that barred prosecutors from attending parole hearings, noting that the “value of a prosecutor’s input in parole hearings is also limited.”

Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva wrote in a letter to Gascón that if prosecutors can’t attend parole hearings, then sheriffs will be sent at the request of family members to “give victims a voice at the table to address their concerns.”

“We believe [it] is important to give a voice for the voiceless and keep our commitment in good standing in support of those who have been victimized by violent crime…I cannot understand why your office is barring prosecutors from attending parole hearings.”

“If prosecutors will no longer be allowed to attend parole hearings, the LASD will attend…in the absence of your prosecutors. At the request of family members, the LASD will do everything possible to give victims a voice at the table to address their concerns.”

“I strongly believe this is the right thing to do,” he continued.

Greg Totten, Chief Executive Officer of the California District Attorneys Association said victims deserve to have a voice.

“Crime victims should be a powerful force in California, but we are now seeing leaders trying to achieve their goals for criminal justice reform by silencing the voices of victims. We must find a balance between reforms that make sense for public safety and curtailing the rights of victims.”

The Daily Caller has reached out to the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office but did not receive a response at the time of publication.