California Parole Board Allows Perpetrator of One of the Most Gruesome Murders and Rapes in San Francisco History to Dictate Parole Terms
San Francisco Family Fought To Keep Convicted Murderer from Coming up for Parole Again for Maximum of 15 Years. State COVID-19 Restrictions Prevented Parole Hearing From Occurring in Person in Violation of Victims’ Rights.
On April 15, the California Parole Board allowed Angelo Pavageau, one of the most vicious killers and rapists in San Francisco and California history, to defer his next parole hearing for three years instead of the maximum deferment of 15 years demanded by the family members of the individual he tortured and killed and the woman he brutally beat, raped and left for dead.
On April 18, 1974, Angelo Pavageau committed one of the most barbaric crimes in California history. In the middle of the night, he climbed onto the roof and through an open window of Frank and Annette Carlson’s home. He found Annette lying asleep, and tried to suffocate her. When she screamed, Frank ran to her aid, but at knifepoint, Pavageau ordered him into a chair. Pavageau tied Frank up and, with Annette forced to watch, beat Frank to death, breaking a hammer, a 3-inch-thick chopping block, and several other objects over Frank’s head. Pavageau then spent 3 hours sadistically raping, torturing, and trying numerous ways to kill Annette. He doused the areas around Annette and Frank with paint thinner, lit it on fire, and left.
Annette miraculously survived. Angelo Pavageau was convicted and sentenced to death. But that sentence was overturned in 1977 because of US Supreme Court rulings about the jury instructions used at that time. Because California was a few months away from enacting life without parole, Pavageau’s sentenced was reduced to the only alternative, life with parole. Through this historical accident, Pavageau started coming up for parole in 1980, just 6 years after the crime. Annette and the Carlsons have had to endure 17 parole hearings, averaging one every 2.4 years.
Because of the cruel process inflicted upon victims like the Carlsons, voters in California passed Marsy’s law in 2008. It required the Parole Board, where they were denying parole, to consider the impact on victims in setting the length of time to set the inmate’s next parole consideration. Marsy’s Law set 15 years as the default period, and required the Board to find “clear and convincing evidence” that the inmate would likely be suitable sooner if they chose to set the next hearing sooner. In practice, and to the dismay of victim advocates, the Parole Board has almost never deferred parole for 15 years, and very rarely have even deferred it 10, 7 or 5 years. There are in fact numerous pressures on the Parole Board, including federal court oversight because of prison overcrowding, to release more prisoners on parole.
On April 15, 2020, the California Parole Board granted Pavageau’s request to defer his next parole hearing for three years. This happened despite the fact that this was the first opportunity since Marsy’s law was passed for it to be applied to Pavageau. Pavageau had tactically avoided the application of the 15 year rule by waiving his right to a hearing for his last three hearings. The family and thousands of supporters demanded parole of 15 years before being considered for parole again. The hearing was held by Skype for the first time in history due to State restrictions because of COVID-19 in violation of victims’ rights to personally appear. The board was chaired by Deborah San Juan a newly appointed member of the California Parole Board.
“A panel of the prison’s best and brightest psychologists concluded that Pavageau is a ‘sadistic sexual psychopath whose condition is not amenable to treatment, although controlled’ while he’s incarcerated. Setting yet another parole hearing just 3 years out is an injustice to my family, to victims, and to the public,” said Eric Carlson, younger brother of Frank Carlson.
“The murderer refused to attend his hearing, as he has for over 25 years, and even stipulated through his appointed counsel that he is unsuitable for release. But, so that he could continue to inflict this painful process on his victims, he offered to defer the next parole hearing only 3 years. We are deeply frustrated that, rather than make their own decision, the Parole Board took the path of least resistance and just accepted his offer. This means Annette and my family must relive this process again in 3 years. The Board could have done the just thing and postponed what even Pavageau believes is the pointless consideration of his parole for 5, 7, 10 or 15 years. They had the authority to give some small solace and time before my family and I have to relive this horribly debilitating process again three years from now. We are beyond distraught they chose not to.” Carlson added.
“For anyone who has not had to live through a hearing of this nature, they are stressful, emotionally draining and a painful walk down memory lane. Victims are forced to confront, normally in person, the individuals who perpetrated the crime.” Carlson said. “Preparing for this event takes many, many months, and is time consuming and draining as we rally support among law enforcement officials, elected officials, friends and family to remind the Parole Board of the consequences of granting freedom to this person. And now we will have to do this all over again in three years. Tragically, the prisoner is running the show and the Board is enabling this outrageous behavior.”
More than 2,000 California citizens sent letters and emails to convince the parole board that there is strong public support for the 15 year sentence to keep Pavageau in jail. A filmed version of Eric Carlson’s statement to the Board can be viewed below.