A man convicted of the 1999 murder of a San Luis Obispo woman was denied parole on Tuesday.
Michael Anthony Morgan of Atascadero murdered 36-year-old Angelina Roe on Mother’s Day weekend in 1999 and dumped her body at an Atascadero construction site.
A few months later, in August, her body was discovered in a 45-foot pillar hole by a construction crew building a bridge along Highway 41 East near Rolling A Ranch.
In 2000, Morgan pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and was sentenced to 26 years to life in state prison.
Morgan, 61, is now behind bars at California State Prison, Corcoran. He was able to sit before the parole board on Tuesday because he’s over 50-years-old and has served more than 20 years.
After a 3.5-hour parole suitability hearing, the board determined Morgan poses an unreasonable risk to society, and he was denied parole.
“It feels so amazing. I can't even describe it. It's overwhelming,” said the victim’s daughter, Amber Escarzega. “Knowing that I can possibly move forward and heal and he's not going to be out; I am safe for a little bit.”
Amber was seven-years-old when Morgan murdered her mother.
KSBY News reporter Alexa Bertola was the only member of the news media who observed the virtual parole suitability hearing along with more than two dozen of Angelina’s family members.
We heard testimony from Morgan, input from the San Luis Obispo County District Attorney’s Office, Morgan’s attorney, and statements from the victim’s family.
Morgan said several times during the hearing that he should rot in prison, he shouldn’t be on this planet, and that he should be on death row.
“He's been a drug addict and I mean, he has two months clean now so all these feelings and emotions, I don't think he knows what he wants,” Escarzega said.
He said he wanted to make amends with the family and that he had made the most horrible decision of his life. However, Morgan denied murdering Roe and said he only disposed of her body with his truck.
Instead, he placed the blame on John Card, a San Luis Obispo man who was convicted of voluntary manslaughter in the case and was released after serving seven years.
“I actually believe JC Card was involved a lot more than he was but, I mean, Michael Anthony Morgan put his life on the line to tell us that,” Escarzega said.
The District Attorney’s Office argued that all evidence pointed to Morgan, who was a drug dealer, and that the motive of the murder was his stolen wallet.
His lawyer said in 2017, Morgan received his GED and has gone through a variety of programs over the years.
He had three serious rule violations in recent years, though, including battery on an inmate and another incident involving meth.
The victim’s family argued that he should remain behind bars for Angelina’s murder and that a lot of innocent people would be fearful if he’s let free.
“He is a very vengeful, angry, bitter person and I would be afraid, I mean of any age, any race, any gender just the wrath of Michael Anthony Morgan,” Escarzega said.
Morgan will be eligible for another parole suitability hearing in 10 years, but he can petition to advance that.
“I got a lot of questions answered today that I always wondered, and it was so nice to be able to get some closure,” Escarzega concluded.
After the parole suitability hearing, San Luis Obispo County District Attorney Dan Dow tweeted, "We are grateful for the Board of Parole Hearings' decision to deny this murderer's request for parole."
“The impact of this horrific murder on Angelina Roe's loved ones will never be erased,” -DA @DanDow. "We are grateful for the Board of Parole Hearings' decision to deny this murderer's request for parole. Our hearts are with the family members who still mourn Angelina's death." pic.twitter.com/xVoJ2eRR9y— SLO County Dist Atty (@SLOCounty_DA) March 30, 2022
According to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, last year, just 34% of inmates were granted parole out of the more than 4,100 inmates that were eligible.
That’s down from 36% in 2020.
Of the 720 life-term inmates released in the fiscal year 2015-16 as a result of a grant of parole by the board, 23 offenders, or 3.2%, were convicted of a new crime during a three-year follow-up period.
Angelina Roe would have been 59-years-old on March 16.