Updated: Friday, 23 Apr 2010, 5:22 PM MDT
Published : Tuesday, 16 Mar 2010, 10:29 PM MDT
ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - Some of the state’s most dangerous criminals, convicted murderers who were sentenced to life in prison after a change in state law in 1980, are lining up to ask for freedom from the state parole board.
State lawmakers modified a state statute in 1980, declaring that anyone sentenced to life imprisonment becomes eligible for parole after 30 years.
The law is now 30-years-old.
“The parole board still has jurisdiction over if that person is going to be granted parole or if they’re going to have to keep serving time,” New Mexico Parole Board chair Sandra Dietz said.
The first inmate eligible for parole under the 1980 statute went before the state parole board March 1.
Rudolph Sena, 59, was convicted in a fatal shooting that took place at the old Music Box Bar in southwest Albuquerque in March of 1980.
He was tried and convicted, and sentenced to 'life in prison' under the modified statute.
He was informed March 8 that his request for parole had been denied, partly because his plan for adapting back into society wasn’t good enough.
“We did not think it was an adequate plan at this time,” Dietz said. “It’s a very difficult decision to make, because a lot of the crimes that we’re looking at, including Mr. Sena’s, are some of the most egregious that have been conducted in our community.”
The state parole board will see another two inmates sentenced under the statute later this year and another six inmates in 2011.
They include convicted murderers Donald Whittington, 56, William McGhee, 51, Robert Chavez, 60, Danny Gonzales, 49, Randy Pense, 57, Walter Finnell, 50, Shane Lasiter, 45, and David Cheadle, 51.
Cheadle was convicted in the fatal shooting death of former UNM basketball star Gabe Nava in September of 1980, and the sexual assault of Nava’s girlfriend.
He will go before the parole board in August of 2011.
Even though the law makes inmates eligible for release after 30 years, it in no way guarantees it, Dietz said.
The inmates have a lot to overcome and a lot to prove.
“We have to make a decision about public safety - and also, what is the best interest of this parolee? Are we going to put them back out into a position where they are destined to fail,” Dietz said. “They’ve been incarcerated a long time. This is a new world, a different world than when they went in.”
Once inmates reach 30 years, they are eligible for parole consideration every two years.