We have reaction to Governor Brown’s decision to give a Fresno County woman convicted of murdering her husband the chance of a release from prison.
Susan Russo was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
This is where a Fresno County judge and jury, and a victim’s family expected Susan Russo to spend the rest of her life, behind bars in prison.
Russo was convicted of the 1994 murder of her husband David Russo, a captain in the Navy. And a volunteer fire fighter in Riverdale, where he lived.
“He actually he was a very good volunteer fire fighter because he had prior training with the Navy, and he was someone people would follow,” said Fresno County Supervisor Buddy Mendes.
Mendes was a volunteer firefighter with David Russo. And he disagrees with the governor’s decision.
“Where’s justice for David, he’s dead,” Mendes said.
Investigators say Susan Russo arranged her husband’s murder for his million dollar insurance policy. Fresno County Assistant District Attorney Steve Wright says Susan Russo was having an affair and got her boyfriend and one his friends to help carry out her plan.
“Her two kids were asleep in the house. She had her boyfriend and the other individual come into the house in Riverdale. She let them into the house and Mr. Rousseau was shot in the back of the head and killed,” Wright said.
Wright says Susan Russo also tried to have one of her co-conspirators killed, so he couldn’t testify against her.
But the governor has commuted Russo’s sentence from life without parole to 25 to life, which means she could be eligible for parole.
And Wright thinks, there’s a good chance she could be released.
“Recently in last several years the number of grants of parole has sky-rocketed. We’re looking at an over 30 percent grant or release rate,” Wright said.
Wright says changes to the law from Prop. 47 and Prop 57, and prison re-alignment are driving the higher rates of parole to decrease prison population.
He says the Fresno County DA’s office will fight Susan Russo’s release.