Family of "Thrill Kill" Victim Fear New Bill Could Set Murderer Free

Governor Jerry Brown officially signed SB 1391 last month, barring offenders age 15 and younger from being charged as adults.

The news of this new legislatures passing hit especially hard for one family who lost one of their own, 15-year-old Michael Russell, to young killers. 

Prosecutors told Cathy Russell, the aunt of Michael, that one of the killers convicted in the brutal 2009 stabbing death of Michael will be released from prison in two years because of the bill.

Michael Russell was brutally murdered by Rae Williams and Randy Thompson in a San Jose backyard in what was called a Satanist-inspired "thrill kill" or the "Devil Boys" murder. Williams, who was 15 at the time of the murder and a Santa Teresa High School classmate of Russell’s, was convicted in 2014 and is currently serving a sentence of 26 years to life in San Quentin State Prison. Thompson is not affected by the bill because he was 16 at the time of the murder. 

“He brutally murdered somebody and it was planned,” Russell said of Williams. “He’s had no remorse for 10 years. And now what does this tell him, ‘Now I get to get out?’ What are we doing in society? What message are we sending?”

Santa Clara County DA Jeff Rosen argues the bill is entirely unconstitutional saying, “SB 1391 would create an undue burden on communities with higher crime rates by allowing dangerous youth to return to those communities, creating fear, trauma, and more victims,” even before the bill had officially passed. 

At a hearing Tuesday, Cathy Russell sought to remind the public how Williams sadistically decided to kill her nephew. She detailed how Williams had first tortured animals, then befriended Michael and plotted his murder to see what it was like to kill a human being.

“He’s going to be able to live a free life,” Cathy Russell said, “and here we are having to hold onto this with no justice. The last nine years have been like a slap in the face.”

Sb 1391 will not go into effect until Jan. 1. 

Photo: Getty Images

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