The future of a man currently behind bars for the 2010 murder of a Santa Maria teen could be up to Governor Gavin Newsom.
Jason Greenwell was recently granted parole suitability, meaning he could be released from prison following a review.
According to data from the governor's office, in 2019 and 2020, Newsom reversed the parole board's decision in 129 cases in which parole suitability was granted.
During that same time, the California Board of Parole Hearings had 13,745 parole suitability hearings and granted parole in 2,418 cases.
One of the inmates who was granted parole in 2020 was Edward Joseph Prokop.
In 1980, Prokop murdered Robert T. Folkerts, the owner of the Nipomo Swap Meet. Folkerts was found dead in his car, shot multiple times. Prokop fled the state but was arrested a year later. He was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to 27 years to life with the possibility of parole.
Gov. Newsom referred the decision to grant Prokop parole suitability to the full parole board, but at a hearing in January 2021, the board found no cause to rescind the grant.
Prokop wasn't released, however.
According to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, the State of Arizona placed a detainer on Prokop for past crimes of burglary and theft and he was transferred in February to the Arizona Department of Corrections, Rehabilitation and Reentry.
Records show that Prokop is currently in custody at the Lewis Prison-Complex in Buckeye, Arizona, with a projected release date of April 26, 2029.
So far in 2021, the Board of Parole Hearings has granted parole in 1,209 of the 7,267 suitability hearings held between January 1 and October 31.
That includes a couple of high-profile local cases.
In the spring of 2021, the board granted parole suitability to Royce Casey, one of three people convicted of the 1995 murder of 15-year-old Elyse Pahler of Arroyo Grande.
Casey was 17-years-old when he, along with 16-year-old Jacob Delashmutt and 15-year-old Joseph Fiorella, killed Pahler as part of a sacrifice.
Casey confessed and led authorities to Pahler's remains. He was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison.
While Pahler's family was okay with Casey's release, according to their attorney, Gov. Newsom ultimately reversed the parole board's decision, saying, "Mr. Casey must do additional work to deepen his insight into the causative factors of his crime and coping skills before he can be safely released on parole."
Now, Greenwell has been granted parole suitability.
He is one of five people sentenced to prison for the killing of 15-year-old Dystiny Myers in 2010.
His parole suitability is currently in the middle of a 150-day review period. After a CDCR legal review, the governor can decide to uphold, reverse, or modify the decision, send it to the full parole board for review, or take no action, allowing the decision to move forward.