Board Grants Parole For Killer Who Buried His Victim Alive, California Gov. Newsom Follows Suit

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Bradley Devlin General Assignment & Analysis Reporter
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Democratic California Gov. Gavin Newsom allowed the parole of a killer who buried his victim alive go through after the state parole board initiated the move, officials announced Monday.

The state parole board decided to release David Weidert after taking into consideration his lack of an extensive criminal record and decades of good behavior in prison, The Associated Press reported. Newsom has the authority to step in to prevent a prisoner from being released on parole, as he has with Weidert in the past. Weidert, now 58 years old, was previously sentenced to life in prison for murdering Michael Morganti in 1980 by burying Morganti alive, the AP noted.

At the time of the murder in 1980, Weidert and Morganti were 17 years old and 20 years old, respectively. Weidert killed Morganti after Morganti spoke to law enforcement about a $500 burglary the two orchestrated, the AP reported. Morganti was Weidert’s lookout as he committed the burglary, prosecutors claimed, according to the AP.

The then-17-year-old Weidert and a 16-year-old accomplice lured Morganti into a car and drove to an isolated area where the two teenagers forced Morganti to dig his own grave while the pair beat him with a baseball bat and shovel, the AP claimed. At some point, the teenagers stabbed and choked Morganti with a telephone wire.

Morganti eventually suffocated to death after Weidert and his accomplice buried him alive, according to the AP.

Newsom decided to accept the state parole board’s findings, which took into account that Weidert was just 17 when he committed “an incredibly gruesome, violent, horrific murder.” The board also factored in decades of good behavior in prison, which also led them to the determination that Weidert no longer poses a threat to the public, a transcript of the hearing said, according to the AP. Newsom concurred with the parole board’s findings that “determined that he does not pose a current unreasonable risk to public safety,” the governor’s office claimed Monday, according to the AP.

Thirteen months ago, Newsom rejected Weidert’s parole, claiming Weidert “poses an unreasonable danger to society if released from prison at this time.” His predecessor, former Democratic California Gov. Jerry Brown, shot down parole board release recommendations for Weidert in 2016 and 2018 as well, the AP noted. (RELATED: Inside Gavin Newsom’s Attempt To Keep The Pandemic, And His Power, Alive)

Vikki Van Duyne, Morganti’s sister, was shocked at the governor’s decision. Over the course of Weidert’s imprisonment, she has attended 11 parole hearings to oppose his release, the AP reported.

“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,” Van Duyne claimed, according to the AP. “You do really bad things, we need to have a way to protect society and keep people in.”

California Republican Assemblyman Jim Patterson, who has opposed Weidert’s release for multiple years, said Newsom’s decision is wrong because “the man who tortured and murdered a mentally disabled young man goes free while his family is forced to relive the horror,” the AP reported.

Weidert’s attorney, Charles Carbone, said, “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.”

“This is about promoting public safety, and Mr. Weidert has earned his way out by pursuing a very long and arduous path of rehabilitation,” he continued.