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Parole granted to former California probation officer convicted of killing his pregnant wife

A former San Bernadino County probation officer who was convicted of killing his pregnant wife and her fetus was granted parole this week after spending more than two decades behind bars.

In March, Gov. Gavin Newsom commuted Rodney McNeal’s sentence, as the coronavirus ravaged jails across the state. In his commutation letter, Newsom wrote that McNeal “has committed himself to his self-improvement.”

The move allowed McNeal to bring his case to the parole board, which made its decision on Tuesday.

San Bernadino County District Attorney Jason Anderson swiftly condemned the parole board’s decision, calling it “appalling and wrong,” in a statement.

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Debra McNeal was found submerged in a bathtub with stab wounds and strangulation marks in the couple’s Highland home in March 1997. She was six months pregnant. McNeal was convicted in their deaths and sentenced to 30 years-to-life in 2000.

Granting patrol to McNeal “strips away the notice and reliance the victims’ family placed in the criminal justice system,” Anderson said in the statement.

The California Innocence Project took up McNeal’s case in 2006, arguing that McNeal was convicted “despite the compelling evidence of innocence” and suggesting his half-brother may have committed the murder.

Shantel Haynes, Debra’s daughter from another marriage, has pushed against Rodney McNeal’s release. In a Change.org petition, she wrote that she and her siblings witnessed McNeal’s abuse of her mother.

“Help me keep justice in my mother’s name and the countless victims of domestic violence,” Haynes wrote.


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