Gov. Jerry Brown again has denied parole to a former gang member who was convicted of fatally shooting a San Diego police officer in 1978.
This is the second year in a row that Brown has reversed a state board’s decision to recommend Jesus Salvador Cecena, 54, for parole.
Cecena was 17 when he was convicted of first-degree murder for shooting Officer Archie Buggs, 30, four times during a traffic stop in the Skyline neighborhood.
In his decision released Friday, Brown said he still believes Cecena would be a threat to society if he were to be released from prison.
While Brown acknowledged Cecena’s age when the crime was committed and his positive behavior in prison, he said Cecena still can’t give a credible explanation for his actions and continues to “whitewash” the murder.
Last year, Cecena told a psychologist his actions were “impulsive and rather panicked” and that he didn’t have the skill to carefully aim at any particular part of the officer’s body. But a judge noted at Cecena’s sentencing hearing that the evidence showed the killing was cool, calculated and deliberate, Brown said in a written statement.
“Mr. Cecena’s characterization of his actions as impulsive indicates to me that he is minimizing the callousness of the crime and his intent to execute Officer Buggs,” Brown said. “I am not convinced that Mr. Cecena will be able to abstain from violence given the fact that he has yet to confront — in an adequate and forthcoming manner — the nature of his actions and what led him to gun down a police officer.”
Brown noted that at last year’s parole hearing, Buggs’ partner, former San Diego police Officer Jesse Navarro, said he and Buggs had arrested Cecena before the fatal traffic stop and “couldn’t count the number of times” Cecena had threatened to kill them both, contradicting Cecena’s statements that he had never had a run-in with Buggs.
“I am not willing to brush aside Officer Navarro’s statements,” Brown said, urging the parole board to conduct an investigation into Navarro’s statements.
A two-member panel announced its decision to recommend Cecena for parole for a second time during an August 2015 hearing that included a discussion of his criminal record, psychiatric history and plans for life on parole.
Cecena has been in prison since 1979.
Hernandez is a reporter for the San Diego Union-Tribune.