SLO judge frees man he once gave life sentence
May 1, 2015
More than 20 years after sentencing a 16-year-old to life in prison without parole, San Luis Obispo Judge Michael Duffy has ordered the release of the now 37-year-old man.
When he was 13-years-old, Mexican national Freddie Chacon was sent to the Paso Robles Youth Correctional Facility. Three years later, along with another inmate, Chacon kidnapped a female librarian at the facility and demanded a truck to drive to Mexico.
Chacon and his accomplice took off in the truck with the hostage. But, Chacon, the driver, promptly crashed the vehicle after a sheriff’s deputy sprayed mace through the rolled-down driver’s side window.
The librarian suffered minor injuries in the crash.
Duffy sentenced Chacon to life without parole after he was convicted of kidnapping, extortion, assault with a deadly weapon and other felony charges. The sentence is considered harsh by today’s standards.
While in prison, Chacon spent more than 20 years at maximum security facility Pelican Bay. He spent 17 of those years in solitary confinement for associating with a Mexican gang.
Chacon’s gang affiliation is disputed, though.
In March, Chacon again appeared before Duffy in San Luis Obispo court. The victim of his crime was also present at the hearing.
Chacon apologized to her, and the victim said she changed her mind and that the best thing to do would be to release him. Chacon left prison on April 18 after a brief stint in the California Men’s Colony.
He told the court he plans to go to Mexico to work at a family business and plans to never return to the U.S. Chacon was placed on five years’ probation, but it will not be enforced in Mexico.
A bill signed into law in 2012 by Governor Jerry Brown allowed Chacon to apply for release. The law granted chances for release to about 300 inmates who were sentenced as minors to life without parole and had served at least 20 years and shown remorse for their crimes. Charon’s accomplice gained release from prison under the same provision in May.