A man, who was sentenced under the third strike law to a lengthy prison term because of a span of burglaries, thefts and forgeries, has been found suitable for parole based on his age and other factors, the Stanislaus County District Attorney's Office reported.
Robert Allen Dekelaita, 61, most recent prison stay resulted from a conviction for a Turlock burglary, but his criminal record goes back several decades with a whole host of felony convictions, according to the district attorney's office.
On April 24, 2002, the Turlock Police Department responded to an apartment complex on Clifford Avenue for the report of a burglary in progress. Officers saw Dekelaita leaving the scene and arrested him after a brief foot pursuit. Dekelaita was identified by witnesses who saw him leaving the apartment. The apartment had the door kicked in and had been ransacked. The occupant of the apartment returned to the residence and was able to identify property found in Dekelaita’s possession as having been stolen.
"Prior to this crime, Dekelaita was a career criminal with numerous convictions over 20 years including convictions for residential burglary, commercial burglary, grand theft, forgery, resisting arrest, receiving stolen property and drug possession," the district attorney's office said in a news release. "He routinely violated probation and parole."
A Stanislaus County Superior Court jury convicted Dekelaita of residential burglary and a judge found that he qualified for sentencing under California's Three Strikes law for two prior serious or violent felonies. Dekelaita also had served five prior prison terms.
At the sentencing hearing, Stanislaus County Superior Court Judge Roger Beauchesne denied a defense request to strike the prior convictions, stating that Dekelaita had not been free of jail or prison custody for longer than a year and a half since 1985. He then ordered Dekelaita to serve a total of 38 years to life in state prison. An appellate court upheld the conviction and sentence in 2003.
"Over the last 18 years while in prison custody, Dekelaita repeatedly violated prison rules including theft of state property, use of a controlled substance, mutual fighting, disobeying orders and possession of other contraband," the district attorney's office stated. "His most recent violation occurred in 2016."
When Dekelaita turned 61 years old this year he became eligible for elderly parole consideration because of his age and physical disabilities. A comprehensive risk assessment by a prison psychologist gave the opinion that Dekelaita represented a low risk for future violence if released into the community based on these factors.
The district attorney's office argued against Dekelaita's release, based upon his repeated violations while in prison, he relative recency of his institutional programming and his lack of solid parole plans.
The State Board of Parole Hearings ruled in favor of granting Dekelaita parole after a hearing on June 8. The ruling now goes on for review by the full parole board. This was Dekelaita’s first and only parole hearing. He has been in prison for approximately 19 years.