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Parole board finds Turlock baby killer eligible for release

A Turlock man convicted of killing a 9-month-old baby in 1993 could be getting out of prison, following a decision by the State Board of Parole Hearings in Tehachapi.

On Jan. 19, 1995, Fernando Arreola, 43, of Turlock,  was convicted of second degree murder for the 1993 killing of a 9-month-old baby.

Arreola was sentenced to 15 years to life on March 3, 1995. Although Arreola denied responsibility for the baby’s death at trial, he eventually admitted at a parole eligibility hearing in 2012 that he had in fact killed the baby. At his most recent parole eligibility hearing, Arreola admitted that during the five months that he lived with the baby he had abused him at least 30 times prior to the attack which caused the baby’s death.

At the parole hearing for Arreola, Deputy District Attorney Sandra Bishop argued for continued confinement based on the cruel and callous nature of the offense, the extreme vulnerability of the helpless baby, the prison psychiatric assessment that Arreola presented a moderate risk for future violence and Arreola’s lack of insight into his crime and lack of remorse for the consequences of his actions.

Presiding Board of Prison Terms Commissioner Zarrinnan described the crime as heinous, vicious and brutal and "quite disturbing and troublesome" but found, nevertheless, that the inmate had verbalized requisite insight into his crime.

In reaching their conclusion that Arreola was eligible for release, the hearing panel discounted the most recent 2012 psychiatric report which determined Arreola to be a moderate risk of future violence based on progress shown by Arreola since that report. The hearing panel noted that Arreola was 23 years old when he murdered the baby and had no prior criminal record of assault.

They also observed that Arreola had not been in trouble in prison since 2007, had been receiving positive work performance evaluations and had participated in numerous self-help prison groups.

The hearing panel imposed conditions on Arreola’s parole that he have no contact with the victim’s next of kin and that he not be left alone with any child under the age of 18.

The grant of parole now goes to the Governor’s office for review. The Governor has 120 to 150 days to decide whether or not to grant parole.