L.A. Times Sues California for Info on Murder Suspect-Parolees
SACRAMENTO (CN) - The Los Angeles Times sued the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation for records on two registered sex offenders who are accused of raping and murdering four women while on parole.
Los Angeles Times Communications claims the records will "shed light on shortcomings" in the prison department's supervision of parolees.
The Times wants to see records on Franc Cano, 27, and Steven Dean Gordon, 45, who were arrested in April and are charged with the rape and murder of four women in California. Both suspects pleaded not guilty in May.
Both men had done time for sexually assaulting children under the age of 14. They were on parole and were supposed to be equipped with GPS monitoring devices at the time of the murders, according to NBC News.
The two men were found together out of state in 2010 and in 2012, and data from their GPS monitors helped link the men to the disappearance of three of the women and to the murder of a fourth woman, according to NBC.
The Times records request claims that the women were killed while Cano and Gordon "were under the watch of multiple law enforcement agencies, and living within walking distance of one of the agencies."
The state prisons department has been under pressure to release parole records in the past, particularly in the case of Phillip Garrido, who kidnapped 11-year-old Jaycee Dugard three years after he was paroled for a sex crime. Garrido held Dugard hostage for 18 years and fathered her two children.
After being sued by two newspapers for records on Garrido, the CDCR disclosed them pursuant to a court order.
"CDCR said in the wake of Garrido that it had failed to supervise Mr. Garrido properly, but would learn from its mistakes. It apparently has not. Rather than releasing records that would illuminate whether and how CDCR fell short again in its supervision of Mr. Cano and Mr. Gordon, CDCR again engaged in the same resistance to disclosure that it practiced in Garrido," the Times says in its complaint.
"The records sought here will enhance the public's understanding of the supervision, or lack thereof, by CDCR during a time period when Mr. Cano and Mr. Gordon are accused of killing several women. The public thus has an overriding interest in access to records on this closely watched and very disturbing case, and an overriding interest in seeing whether CDCR is doing its job."
Times reporter Paige St. John requested the "complete Record of Supervision" for the two parolees on April 16, and was told several weeks later that the CDCR would not produce any of them. The CDCR's attorney said that parole revocation records were exempt from disclosure.
After further communication, CDCR produced some, but not all, of the requested information. It told the Times that it would delay in producing the names of the agents who supervised Cano and Gordon until those agents were given a 30-day notice.
The Times says that CDCR's refusal to disclose the requested parole records violates the California Public Records Act and the California Constitution.
It asks the court to order CDCR to disclose all of the records requested or to show why the records should not be released.
The Times is represented in Superior Court by Karl Olson, with Ram, Olson, Cereghino & Kopczynski.