Orange County DA Sues State Parole Board on Behalf of Former Mayor

Former San Juan Capistrano mayor Collene Campbell’s son Scott was just 27 years old when he was murdered by a friend and dumped into the ocean by a Cessna airplane. For years, his mother has advocated on behalf of crime victims in California. Now, her son’s killer stands the chance of being released during a parole hearing that Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas says is premature.

The Orange County DA has filed suit against the state’s parole board on Campbell’s behalf. The suit says that her son’s murderer, Larry R. Cowell, was not scheduled to be eligible for parole until 2019. Nevertheless, a hearing has been scheduled for next month. Campbell also wasn’t notified about the new parole hearing date, according to Rackauckus, which is a violation of Marsy’s Law.

Cowell was denied parole just two years ago, with the board finding that he posed a threat to public safety if released. It is too soon for his mother to have to return to fight this battle all over again, the DA argues.

The date for Cowell’s latest hearing was determined by an administrative employee of the board who lacked the authority to do so, according to the DA’s suit. Why this is happening remains unclear, but Rackauckus suspects the push to reduce California’s inmate population may have played a role.

"Laws have been made to reduce the number of people in prison," Rackauckas said. "I see this as part of that. It's a continuation of this movement to get people out of prison."

Read more at ABC7 and the Orange County Register