FRESNO COUNTY, California. (KSEE) – A convicted killer will be released from a California prison, 40 years after burying a developmentally disabled Clovis man alive.
Following the announcement of 58-year-old David Weidert’s release, Valley officials and the victim’s family expressed outrage at the decision.
Weidert was convicted to a life sentence in 1980 for the brutal murder of Mike Morganti.
This year, the state parole board granted Weidert parole, saying he does not pose a “risk to safety.”
Despite denying it in the past, the governor decided to not overturn the decision to release Weidert.
“We feel like we failed mike, you know,” said Mike’s sister, Vikki Van Duyne.
In 1980, Van Duyne’s 20-year-old brother Mike was beaten, stabbed, forced to dig his own grave, and then was buried alive in the foothills of Clovis.
“The man who tortured and murdered a mentally disabled man goes free while his family is forced to relive the horror,” said Assemblymember Jim Patterson.
Van Duyne says she is now living in fear after hearing the news about Weidert’s release.
“I am scared for my family. I am scared for that person in the grocery store parking lot that takes his parking spot. How do you let that person into society when he has proven what he can do,” explained Van Duyne.
Weidert was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole, but because of an overcrowding law, the state parole board has granted him parole four times in the last decade.
Then-Governor Jerry Brown blocked his parole twice, and Governor Gavin Newsom blocked it again in 2019. But this year, Newsom let the decision stand.
“So, he’s going to be released from CDCR custody, he’s going to be in a transitional housing program for about six months in free society, and then I believe he’s going back to his mother and his father who are both quite old, and I think his intention is to care for them in their elderly years,” said Weidert’s attorney, Charles Carbone.
Fresno County District Attorney Lisa Smittcamp has taken a firm stance against the decision.
“This is one of the most heinous crimes I have ever heard of,” said Smittcamp. “This is not a person that does not deserve to be paroled, he has shown no remorse and no acceptance of responsibility, and that is why he needs to remain in custody. And shame on Gavin Newsom.”
Carbone says Weidert will be released sometime this week.