Relatives of murder victim Maurine Hunsaker among the first crime victims to testify under a new state law told the Board of Pardons Wednesday that her death has devastated their lives.
And they questioned why Menzies wasn't imprisoned sooner.Maurine Hunsaker's husband, Jim, and her mother, Betty Sudweeks, stood before board members Wednesday to describe the harm Menzies has caused them and to urge the board to "do the right thing" when deciding the killer's fate.
A law passed by the 1988 Legislature now allows the victims of crimes to testify at Board of Pardons hearings when criminals are being considered for parole. The law, which Sudweeks and Jim Hunsaker helped lobby for, went into effect Monday.
The first to testify, in another case, was the mother of an incest victim, who appeared before the board Wednesday morning. In that case, the board ordered the sex offender to remain in prison and scheduled a new hearing in April 1989.
The law defines crime victims to include close relatives of murder victims. It also allows victims, such as in the incest case, to appoint someone else to testify in their behalf, said Paul Sheffield, executive director of the board.
Menzies, sentenced to die for the February 1986 kidnapping and strangling Mrs. Hunsaker, appeared before the board for a parole revocation hearing. Menzies was released from prison in October 1984 after serving more than six years for armed robbery and escape from prison.
Board members Victoria Palacios, Gary Webster and Paul Boyden unanimously voted to revoke that parole because of his latest criminal convictions.
Their decision, however, matters little because Menzies is on death row while his convictions are being appealed to the Utah Supreme Court. If Menzies' death sentence is overturned, the board would then decide how long Menzies should stay in prison for the parole violations.
Before addressing the board, Jim Hunsaker gave the board members photographs of his wife and their three children, saying, "I want you to know how this (murder) devastated our lives."
He told the board he has trouble sleeping at night and wakes up to the sounds of children crying.
But the children, ages 12, 3 and 2, are not there because they are with Maurine's mother. Hunsaker said his wife's murder has temporarily rendered him emotionally incapable of caring for the kids.
"I've lost out on two years of raising my children. . . . How do I get that back? How do they get their mother back?"
He asked why Menzies wasn't returned to prison before the crime spree that ended in Maurine's death. Hunsaker was apparently referring to thefts Menzies committed in November 1985, about a year after his parole and about three months before Maurine Hunsaker was kidnapped from her gas station job on Feb. 23, 1986. Her body was found two days later. She had been stabbed and strangled.
"We just ask that you do whatever is necessary to see that Mr. Menzies' sentence is carried out."
During the testimony, Menzies stared emptily at the victims testifying and showed little emotion.
Following the hearing, Sudweeks, Hunsaker and relatives of other homicide victims expressed pleasure in the new law that allows them to make statements during pardons board hearings.
Sheffield said afterward that the testimony of crime victims carries a great deal of impact, particularly testimony like that of Jim Hunsaker.