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Name: In re Shigemura
Case #: D060974
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 1
Opinion Date: 09/27/2012

Board of Parole Hearings (BPH) decision to deny parole upheld where inmate showed lack of insight into her own active role in murder. The BPH denied inmate Shigemura’s application for parole, and she challenged the denial by way of a petition for writ of habeas corpus, which the trial court granted. The warden appealed. BPH originally denied the inmate parole on the grounds that she had not adequately demonstrated insight into the reasons she participated in the brutal strangulation and bludgeoning of the victim, who had been a friend. The appellate court held that the evidence fully supported the BPH’s decision, and reversed the order granting the habeas petition. The murder occurred after the inmate’s former boyfriend lured the victim into the car the inmate was driving, and strangled her because he believed it would protect him, his girlfriend, and the inmate from a methamphetamine dealer they also planned to murder. In light of the murderers’ paranoid and delusional belief system and its power over them, and the inmate’s statements at the hearing that she felt paralyzed and powerless, the board could reasonably conclude that the inmate had no realistic appreciation of her own active role in the murder. Contrary to the inmate’s assertions, she was not a detached observer but a willing participant with no meaningful desire to prevent the victim’s death. The lack of insight supports the board’s conclusion that the inmate was still a risk to public safety.