UPDATE, AUG. 9, 5:26 P.M.: The Board of Parole Hearings, California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitations today denied the parole requests of Ehriberto Arcelara and Carlos Sanchez, who are currently serving 16 years to life and 15 years to life respectively at Calipatria State Prison in Imperial County.
Arcelara, 47, will next be eligible for a parole hearing in 2021, while 36-year-old Sanchez only has to wait until 2016.
ORIGINAL POST, AUG. 9, 8:58 A.M.: An Orange County District Attorney's office (OCDA) prosecutor is scheduled to appear before the parole board at Calipatria State Prison in Imperial County today to oppose the releases of a drug dealer who stabbed to death a rising young tennis star (with a cocaine habit) and a street thug who shouted, "Pop him, pop him, pop him!" while a relative fired a fatal shot into the back of a man fleeing from them two nights after Christmas.
Deputy District Attorney Renee Jones is set to attend the 10:30 a.m. parole hearing for Ehriberto Arcelara, 47, and the 1:30 p.m. session for Carlos Sanchez, 36.
In the 1980s, Stephen William Aniston had received a tennis scholarship from UC Irvine but lost it after he started using cocaine. Still, he managed to hit the pro-circuit, playing at Wimbledon, traveling the world and becoming ranked among the world's top 200 male players by the U.S. Tennis Association. In the off season, he worked as a tennis pro at Shadow Mountain Racquet and Tennis Club in Palm Desert. He was said to have had tons of friends.
However, his drug habit was blamed for Aniston never realizing his full potential as an athlete--as well as for a string of bad luck that included getting shot at during an altercation on a Southern California freeway.
Things turned tragic the morning of Sept. 21, 1990. The then 27-year-old was buying $20 worth of cocaine from dealer Arcelara when a dispute broke out. Arcelara, then 26, stabbed Aniston, who managed to break free, climb into his car and drive away .
Huntington Beach Police Department officers spotted Aniston's car drifting across Yorktown Avenue east of Beach Boulevard and, thinking a drunken driver was behind the wheel, approached to pull over the vehicle. But before they could, the car crossed the center divider and crashed into the center embankment. Officers then discovered Aniston's severe injuries from the stab wounds. He died at the scene before paramedics arrived.
The murder investigation revealed that Arcelara had bragged to three other drug dealers that he stabbed Aniston "where it hurts" and that two weeks before the incident he had threatened another person with a knife. Between 1985 and 1990, Arcelara was arrested under 21 different aliases for property crimes and multiple narcotics-related offenses and narcotics sales.
On April 18, 1991, he was sentenced to 16 years to life in state prison for one felony count of murder and a sentencing enhancement for the use of a deadly weapon. Currently serving his term at Calipatria, Arcelara has accumulated 16 major rule violations, primarily for sexually deviant behavior including exposure and masturbation, while incarcerated, according to the OCDA.
Deputy DA Jones will no doubt point to a letter from her agency noting that despite a 2006 parole board recommendation that Arcelara "remain discipline free, learn a trade, get therapy . . . and attempt to attain a GED," the inmate has failed to improve his education or gain vocational skills, has not sought self-help but has accrued two more major prison rules violations for manufacturing alcohol and fighting.
"Based on the inmate's lack of rehabilitation and remorse, failure to take responsibility for his crime, and numerous major rules violations, the inmate should not be released," reads an OCDA statement.
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Jones will cite similar grounds when it comes to Sanchez, who was 19 the night of Dec. 27, 1993, when he and his 20-year-old relative, Jesus Gutierrez, approached two men at an Anaheim bus stop. They accosted the unarmed brothers and asked for cigarettes. Then Gutierrez took out a gun, aimed it at 39-year-old Bill Langstaff and demanded money. A fight broke out, and as Langstaff and his younger brother ran away, Gutierrez shot the older man in the back as Sanchez yelled, "Pop him, pop him, pop him!"
Langstaff died in his brother's arms from a gunshot wound to the back of his neck. Sanchez and Gutierrez fled the scene without the victim's property. On Dec. 9, 1994, Sanchez was sentenced to 15 years to life in state prison for one felony count of second degree murder.
Jones will note that after 17 years of incarceration, Sanchez has failed to improve his education or gain vocational skills, has not sought self-help but has affiliated himself with a race-based criminal prison gang. Worse, he has accumulated 21 prison rules violations, 15 of which are major rules violations including battery on an inmate, battery on staff, and mutual combat. In 2009, he was convicted of possession of a deadly weapon in prison and presently has another major rules violation pending.
"There is no indication Inmate Sanchez has begun to take responsibility for the . . . crime, much less exhibit remorse," reads the OCDA parole opposition letter. "To the contrary, he has consistently minimized and made excuses for his participation in this cold blooded murder."