Three additional security guards were brought into the Utah Board of Pardons hearing Friday. They got up and stood behind convicted murderer Johnny A. Perez just before the board announced its decision.
"Mr. Perez, the board has decided to grant you a rehearing in May of 1996," said board member Paul Boyden.By that time, Perez will have served 18 years in the prison.
"That is in the neighborhood of what we consider the just deserts for a crime such as this," Boyden said.
Perez, 27, was only 15 years old when he killed an Ogden motel night clerk during a robbery of the Ben Lomond Motor Hotel on Oct. 24, 1976. He stabbed 65-year-old Henry Topping Jr. 44 times with a six-inch hunting knife. Perez is serving two five-year-to-life sentences for murder and aggravated robbery and a one-to-15-year sentence for burglary.
Perez crumpled up his copy of the board's decision and threw it on the floor as he walked out of the room in silence.
During the hearing, Perez pleaded for a parole date several times. "I can prove myself if you give me a chance," he said.
"I know I've done something terribly wrong and I apologize to the people here for the (harm) I have caused them," Perez said to family members of the victim who attended the hearing.
But board members expressed concern about Perez's ability to control his anger.
"You show me in here that you can control your anger and then I'll let you out," said board member Victoria Palacios. She said she would not risk giving him a chance at the expense of the public's safety.
"I'm not asking for (release in) a year," Perez told the board. "But a date that I can shoot for, that I can hold onto. I have a family that I love and want to be with."
Boyden reminded Perez that he has had nine major disciplinary reports since his first parole hearing in 1986.