A murderer whose parole was rescinded should be released because Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and the U.S. Parole Commission engaged in improper and unlawful actions to keep him behind bars, says a federal magistrate’s ruling reported by the Washington Post. Magistrate Susan Cole in Atlanta wrote that the commission showed bias in its dealings with Veronza Bowers Jr., a former Black Panther serving a life sentence in connection with the 1973 killing of a federal park ranger near San Francisco. Gonzales intervened to keep Bowers in prison after a memo from Commissioner Deborah Spagnoli, a former White House aide. Cole said the attorney general “had no statutory or regulatory authority” to seek a review.
A federal judge will review Cole’s ruling. The Post reported irregularities in the case last week. The story recounted how the commission granted Bowers parole in 2005 but did not release him after a campaign by Spagnoli, who later resigned.