UPDATE, MAY 4, 4:21 P.M.: The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitations' Board of Parole Hearings today denied parole for Christopher Michael Sheehan, who has been rotting in a San Luis Obispo cell for the 1985 murder of his partner in armed robbery and attempted murder of former Huntington Beach police Sgt. Ed Deuel.
Sheehan, 49, will next be eligible for a parole hearing in 2016.
ORIGINAL POST, MAY 4, 10:04 A.M.: Orange County Senior Deputy District Attorney Matt Murphy has a return engagement with the Board of Parole Hearings this morning.
On April 26, the veteran Homicide Unit prosecutor helped successfully argue against the release of killer Lawrence Rayburn Cowell, who is rotting in a Blythe state prison cell for tossing his pal out of an airplane. Now Murphy is back before the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitations panel seeking the same for Christopher Michael Sheehan, who has been rotting in a San Luis Obispo cell for the 1985 murder of his partner in armed robbery and attempted murder of former Huntington Beach police Sgt. Ed Deuel.
Around 9:30 p.m. on April 13, 1985, then-23-year-old Sheehan and 21-year-old Thomas Oglesby, both parolees armed with hidden firearms, walked into Things For Your Head to rob the Huntington Beach head shop. Employee Cindy Marchette asked Sheehan and Oglesby if they needed help, but the pair declined and walked around the shop until the remaining customers left the store. They then approached Marchette in the back of the shop and Oglesby pulled out his handgun and told her, "Do you know what one of these are? My friend has one too. Put the money in the bag."
Oglesby had another employee, Laura Ecker, go to the register to retrieve the cash while Marchette assisted Sheehan and Oglesby load a bag with store items. While at the register, Ecker activated the silent alarm. Collecting the goods and cash, the robbers ordered Marchette, Ecker and a third employee to sit on the floor of the backroom and not to run out the back door.
Deuel, who had been patrolling in the area, responded to the silent alarm and confronted Sheehan and Oglesby at the shop entrance. He ordered the two men to kneel against a wall. But Sheehan argued with the officer, distracting him enough to allow Oglesby to reach for his gun and fire at Deuel, hitting him once in the chest. The cop fell over the hood of a car.
Fortunately, he was wearing a bulletproof vest and managed to regain his footing and fire back at Oglesby, killing him. Sheehan fired his shotgun at Deuel, missing the sergeant, and fled the scene.
He was arrested in Kern County, Utah, on a warrant for the attempted murder of Deuel and murder of Oglesby and returned to Orange County in April 1985. He was convicted and sentenced in July 1986 to 37 years to life in state prison on felony counts including first degree murder, attempted murder, robbery, burglary, and a sentencing enhancement for the personal use of a firearm and assault with deadly weapon.
Now 49, Sheehan is currently being held at California Men's Colony in San Luis Obispo. Murphy is arguing against his parole on grounds of his long criminal record and alleged lack of remorse. According to a statement from the Orange County District Attorney's office (OCDA):
Since his arrest in April 1985, Sheehan has consistently blamed Sgt. Deuel for the shooting and failed to take responsibility or show remorse for his crime. For more than 25 years he has claimed that he never fired the shotgun and/or that the fired the shotgun into the air to simply scare the victim.
Two months ago, after learning that his parole hearing was imminent and for the first time in over two and half decades, Sheehan admitted to intentionally shooting at Sgt. Deuel. His timely repentance on the heels of the parole hearing shows an absence of genuine remorse for the murder and attempted murder.
The OCDA also claims, "Sheehan is a threat to public safety and hasn't spent a full year out of custody without committing crimes." His rap sheet:
- In May 1980, he was taken into custody for forging a name on a credit card.
- While on parole in March 1982, he was arrested and prosecuted for second degree burglary.
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- While on parole in January 1984, he was taken into custody for violating his parole.
- On April 22, 1985, Sheehan was arrested in Kern County, Utah, for the last time on murder charges for the death of Oglesby and the attempted murder of Deuel.
Deuel, who was a Whittier police officer for three years before joining Surf City's force in 1977, retired in 2006. For his role in the officer-involved shooting, he received honors for valor from his department and the Chamber of Commerce.
As a result of the Sheehan case and two other shooting situations, Deuel worked with a police psychologist to develop a Trauma Support Team, a group of officers trained provide for the immediate needs of cops or other effected employees involved in traumatic incidents. The program proved so successful, it spread to other agencies, Deuel gave presentations across the country and in Australia and he wrote about the topic in Law and Order and National Tactical Officers Association magazines.