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Former Sonora Man Convicted Of Setting Sister On Fire, Denied Parole 

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Sonora, California –– A former Sonora man convicted of killing his disabled sister by setting her on fire 20 years ago has been denied parole.

Steven Richards was 48 when he was convicted in 2005 of murder and arson and sentenced to 8 years plus 25 years to life in prison. He is now 68 and will have to wait another three years for a chance at parole. At his video conference parole board hearing, a two-commissioner panel found him unsuitable for parole after he was unable to provide any concrete steps he had taken in the last few years to prepare for release in society, although he had hoped to be released to a board and care facility somewhere, according to Tuolumne County District Attorney Cassandra Jenecke.

That was not the only reason for the denial of parole. Before the hearing, a Current Risk Assessment (CRA) report was done and noted that he had been diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic and suffered auditory hallucinations requiring regular medication. It also classified Richards as a High Risk for violent recidivism should he be released. Also, just in 2019, there were reports of violence against prison staff by him.

The case dates back to 2003 when Richards was living in his mother’s home. He was convicted of pouring a coffee can full of gasoline on his physically disabled sister, Nadine, and lighting her on fire in front of their mother. Jenecke detailed, “Nadine was engulfed in flames and died, and the family dog was also killed. The family home was also destroyed in the fire.”

Richard’s next chance at parole could have been extended to as much as 15 years. Jenecke added, “The board urged Richards to continue going to Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and to work with appropriate people in the prison system on coming up with an organized plan for reintroduction.”

 

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