A Calabasas man convicted of the 1985 murder of a high school classmate who had revealed the killer’s homosexuality is expected to be paroled this week after 21 years in custody.
Robert Rosenkrantz was sentenced as an 18-year-old to an indefinite term of 17 years to life. He was told that he would be eligible for parole after nine years, and he conducted himself as what courts called a model prisoner.
But as his parole was blocked repeatedly, he eventually became a symbol of California’s turn against rehabilitation, at least regarding murderers.
State authorities displayed a deep reluctance to release murderers, regardless of what they had done to rehabilitate themselves.
Rosenkrantz’s break came this summer when Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge David Wesley noted that, in denying the inmate release, parole authorities repeatedly cited the gravity of the original offense, “the circumstances of which can never change.”
The judge ruled that continued reliance on the original offense “runs contrary to the rehabilitative goals espoused by the prison system” and violated Rosenkrantz’s rights.
Continued incarceration would “essentially convert [his] original sentence of life with the possibility of parole into a sentence of life without the possibility of parole,” Wesley said.
The state Supreme Court reported on its website Thursday that it had declined to review an appeal -- filed by the state attorney general’s office -- of that order.
That paves the way for Rosenkrantz’s release Saturday, said his lawyer, Marc E. Grossman.
“That was sort of a surprise to us,” said the attorney, who worked on the case with Donald Miller, a former prisoner and expert on parole law.
Amanda Lloyd, who filed the opposition for the attorney general’s office, could not be reached for comment.
Rosenkrantz was convicted of shooting 17-year-old Steven Redman 10 times with an Uzi carbine on a Calabasas street.
The attack came a week after Redman and his best friend -- Rosenkrantz’s brother Joey, then 16 -- followed Rosenkrantz to a family vacation home and caught him with a male lover.
The boys then told Rosenkrantz’s parents that he was gay.
The defendant testified during the trial that he waited four hours outside Redman’s condominium, the morning of the killing intending to shoot up Redman’s car. He said he shot Redman in anger after Redman used an anti-gay slur against him.
Wesley noted that parole board panels have found Rosenkrantz suitable for parole in the past.
But then-Gov. Gray Davis reversed the decisions.
The Times reported in 2003 that during Davis’ terms, more than 250 eligible convicted murderers were approved for release by his hand-picked parole board. But Davis freed only seven, far fewer than the number released by his Republican predecessor, Pete Wilson.