SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. -- On January 23, the California Board of Parole Hearings granted parole to 68-year-old Herman Monk, who was convicted of killing his estranged wife in 1992. In 1993, he was sentenced to 26 years to life in prison.
“The parole board hearings are now an adversarial process in which our prosecutors have to go in and battle with the parole board members who are looking for ways to release the worst of the worst back into our community,” District Attorney Mike Ramos said. “I am sick and tired of the liberal agenda being placed on the backs of victims of crime, especially those who have lost a loved one to murder.”
Prior to the murder, Monk's estranged wife, Denise Monk, was living in Virginia with the couple's two-and-half-year-old child. Herman Monk lured her and the child back to California with the promise of reconciliation.
On the night Monk killed Denise, he took her to a restaurant where he plied her with 3-5 double strength cocktails. He then took her to a secluded mountain fire road to a turnout overlooking a steep cliff in Lytle Creek.
With their young child watching from the truck, Monk shoved Denise off the 3,500-foot cliff. The fall didn't kill her. During trial, the evidence showed that Monk descended the cliff to Denise's resting place and bashed her head in with a rock as she lay incapacitated.
The board's ruling doesn't automatically mean Herman Monk will be released. The board's recommendation goes to California Governor Jerry Brown, who has the power to deny his parole.
This was Monk's fourth attempt at parole. In May 2009, members of the District Attorney's Lifer Parole Unit secured a 5-year denial. In Jan. 2014, the board issued a 3-year denial, based on the fact that Monk had received no self-help since 2009.
Two years later, the board issued another 3-year denial based on the fact that Monk had not taken enough domestic violence programming since the last hearing.
According to Deputy District Attorney Connie Lasky, who is a member of the District Attorney's Lifer Parole Unit, the governor's office will be notified of the grant of parole, usually within 120 days.
"The governor then has thirty days to review the grant and affirm or reverse it," said Lasky.
“I urge the governor to reverse this parole decision,” District Attorney Ramos said. “I urge him to change the dynamics in the assessment tools so we make sure these kinds of murderers are never allowed to be released and harm others again.”
Ramos added that in January 2018, alone, the Parole Board granted parole to six murderers from San Bernardino County. Along with Herman Monk, the list includes:
ROBERT SEABOCK: In 1972, the inmate and his “revolutionary” codefendants attempted to break a fellow militant out of the California Institute for Men (CIM), resulting in the murder of a correctional officer. Seabock was sentenced to life in state prison in 1974 for the murder of 24-year-old Jesus Sanchez.
CHRISTOPHER ASAY: In 1987, the inmate robbed and murdered an armored car driver who was picking up money in his private vehicle. The inmate waited until the victim, Gerald Gauthier, left the store he managed and then followed, robbed and killed him. He was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole in 1989.
MARK BARROS: In 1990, after the inmate’s girlfriend tried to break up with him, he slashed her throat and stabbed her multiple times, killing her. Barros was sentenced to 16 years to life in 1991 for the murder of 16-year-old Stacey Gilliam.
FRANCISCO VILLASENOR: The inmate broke into the victim’s apartment, armed with a handgun, to steal back drug money that he had heard the victim had stolen from him. Villasenor shot and killed the victim during gunfight. He was sentenced to 29 years to life in 1993. Villasenor was 24 years and 8 months old when he committed the crime. He was given an advanced hearing under youthful offender parole. A person who was convicted of a controlling offense that was committed when the person was 25 years of age or younger and for which the sentence is a life term of less than 25 years to life shall be eligible for release on parole by the board during his or her 20th year of incarceration.
GILBERT COLON: In 1993, the inmate shot and killed 16-year-old Anthony Jones after he and a friend tried to break up a fight between the inmate and his wife. Colon was sentenced to 20 years to life in state prison.
Read the full press release at San Bernardino County District Attorney