POINT REYES / Park ranger killer's parole is delayed
The scheduled parole of a former Black Panther convicted of murdering a park ranger near Point Reyes more than 30 years ago has been postponed, giving the victim's relatives a chance to express their opposition at a new parole hearing.
Veronza Bowers, 59, was scheduled to be released Presidents Day from a federal prison in Florida. The U.S. Parole Commission delayed his release after the victim's widow sent a letter asking authorities to keep Bowers behind bars.
A new parole hearing will be scheduled, possibly next month, according to a Parole Commission statement.
Bowers was sentenced to life in prison for killing U.S. park ranger Kenneth Patrick, 40, at Point Reyes National Seashore in 1973, but his sentence was later reduced to 30 years. He has now been in prison 10 months longer than his term.
"Victims have the right to provide input into the parole hearing, and the family did not get a chance to give any input," Johnston said. "Veronza Bowers was originally convicted to serve his life in prison, and the family would like to see that sentence carried out."
Prosecutors said Bowers had been poaching deer with two other men in August 1973 when Patrick approached with a flashlight, prompting Bowers to shoot him three times with a 9mm handgun. Bowers maintains his innocence and has characterized himself as a political prisoner.