California’s juvenile offender statute enables individuals who committed crimes during their youth to present their case before a parole panel for the potential possibility of early release. Recently, the state has broadened this legislation to encompass individuals who were below the age of 26 when they committed their offenses. This expansion of the law has resulted in the early parole of a convicted murderer.
On September 6th, the California parole board granted parole to Derek Eugene Pettis, a staggering 11 years ahead of his initially scheduled eligibility date. Pettis is currently serving a life sentence in prison for the murder of Chaplain Bruce Bryan, aged 39, who had been a volunteer with the Carson Sheriff Station in Los Angeles County. Pettis was 24 years old at the time of the crime.
In the fateful night of 1994, Chaplain Bruce Bryan was on patrol alongside 31-year-old Deputy Terrence Wenger. Their path led them to a bar engulfed in a brawl, where they intervened and apprehended Derek Eugene Pettis. Astonishingly, instead of escorting Pettis to jail, Deputy Wenger decided to take him home to allow him to sober up. However, this act of leniency took a horrific turn.
Upon his release from the handcuffs, instead of expressing gratitude towards the law enforcement officer, Pettis viciously struck Wenger in the head, forcibly took hold of his firearm, and callously fired a shot into Wenger’s head, tragically striking him in the eye.
Following the shocking assault on the deputy, Pettis then turned his deadly intentions towards Chaplain Bryan, who was desperately attempting to flee for his life. Without hesitation, Pettis fired upon Bryan’s back, causing him to fall to his knees. In a chilling display of brutality, the assailant stood over Bryan and fired a fatal shot directly downward, bypassing the chaplain’s protective bulletproof vest, ultimately claiming his life.
Floyd Bryan, the brother of Chaplain Bryan, conveyed his reservations to Fox News Digital regarding the amendments to the youth offender law. His concern stemmed from the fact that the crime committed was of a violent nature. In his view, individuals who are willing to take the life of law enforcement officers may pose a threat to anyone they encounter.
Deputy Wenger, despite enduring the loss of an eye in the shooting, displayed remarkable resilience by continuing to serve in the sheriff’s department until his retirement. In a statement submitted to the parole board, he described the shooting as profoundly brutal, sadistic, and merciless. He cautioned the board, emphasizing that there was no assurance that Derek Eugene Pettis wouldn’t commit further acts of violence.
The fate of Pettis now rests in the hands of California Governor Gavin Newsom (D), who must decide whether to accept the board’s recommendation for his release.