Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 2:43 p.m.
Chung Chung Kao committed a terrible crime years ago in Orange County and now he says he's ready to return to freedom.
In Dec. 1992, Kao shot Chung Long Lu, an Orange Coast Community College student, in the head in a Costa Mesa shopping center parking lot.
Two years later, prosecutor Debora Lloyd won a murder conviction against the Los Angeles County resident and in March 1995 Superior Court Judge Kathleen O'Leary sentenced him to a term of 19 years to life in a California prison.
Lloyd went on to have a stellar career inside the Orange County District Attorney's office and is nowadays retired. O'Leary is the presiding justice at the California Court of Appeal based in Santa Ana.
Well, he's spent the last 17 years in prison. He wants to return to society but a parole board in 2011 blocked the move and then did something the convicted killer believes is illegal against him.
Using the voter-approved Marsy's Law--the Victims' Bill of Rights Act, the board extended the period of time to five years in which he can renew his application for freedom.
To Kao, a 51-year-old inmate at the Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility in San Diego County, the employment of a 2008 law should not be retroactively applied to his 1995 punishment because, he argues, the increase in time between parole applications is essentially handing him a more harsh sentence than O'Leary dished out.
Indeed, the U.S. Constitution declares that, "No state shall . . . pass any . . . ex post facto law."
But this month, U.S. District Court Judge Audrey B. Collins studied Kao's situation and dismissed the appeal.
Kao's prison sentence wasn't technically increased--only the span of time between parole board reviews increased, concluded Collins, who noted that a previous California inmate had tried to avoid the impact of Marsy's Law without success with a similar complaint.