One of the three teens convicted of the 1995 murder of 15-year-old Elyse Pahler of Arroyo Grande was recently granted parole suitability.
He was the oldest of the trio - Royce Casey was 17-years-old at the time of Pahler’s murder. He's now 43.
Jacob Delashmutt was 16-years-old and Joseph Fiorella was 15 when they killed Pahler.
All three have been behind bars for more than two decades now, but Casey may be given another shot at life outside his prison cell.
Now that he’s been granted parole suitability, the Board of Parole hearings staff has 90 days to look at the facts and then the governor has 30 days to review it and decide what’s next.
That means Casey could be released from Valley State Prison in Chowchilla as soon as this summer.
San Luis Obispo County District Attorney Dan Dow penned a letter to Governor Gavin Newsom on Tuesday asking him to deny Casey's parole.
“It's one of the worst crimes that I’ve ever read about quite frankly,” Dow said.
Pahler was brutally murdered in July of 1995. The three boys responsible followed the lyrics to a death metal band.
“They really felt strongly that they needed to sacrifice a blonde-haired blue-eyed virgin girl and that would help them in their music careers,” said Allen Hutkin, the Pahler family's attorney.
Eight months later, Casey led authorities to Pahler’s remains on the Nipomo Mesa just a quarter-mile from her parents’ home.
Now, Casey could soon be released from prison.
“The family feels okay about Royce getting out,” Hutkin said. “He's shown remorse. He's been apologetic, and he's done everything right and really tried to reform himself.”
Hutkin says Casey has been an honor inmate and earned a college degree.
Meanwhile, Dow is fighting his potential release.
Here’s the letter he sent to Gov. Newsom on Tuesday:
He went on to say in an interview with KSBY News, “Our community really deserves to know that this person, before he's released, has been not only rehabilitated but he understands and accepts the weight of the responsibility that he had as the oldest of the three juveniles that brutally murdered Elyse Pahler.”
KSBY News reached out to Casey in prison but has not yet heard back.
If released, he reportedly plans to move to Los Angeles and work in drug counseling.
Casey’s lawyer, Kevin McReynolds, said in a statement, "Had we known then what we know now about adolescent brain development, Royce’s case would likely have remained in the juvenile justice system. Nevertheless, his transformation over the past 24 years has been the most genuine and profound that I have ever witnessed. He has so much to offer. I look forward to learning more from him.”
The two others convicted of murdering Elyse Pahler also have upcoming parole suitability hearings. For Jacob Delashmutt, it’s scheduled for December of 2024. Joseph Fiorella has a hearing tentatively scheduled for July of 2022 after voluntarily waiving his right to a hearing for one year.