California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) pardoned five inmates and commuted the sentences of several other state prison inmates – murderers included – amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak on Friday.

It has been reported that he had been considering these cases previously and was going to grant a pardon to the inmates before the outbreak. Vicky Waters, a spokeswoman for Newsom, said, “The clemency requests were being considered before the coronavirus crisis, and, as resources permitted, the governor decided to move forward with them.”

Waters also said the governor, “also considered the public health impact of each grant, as well as each inmate’s individual health status and the suitability of their post-release plans, including housing.”


The move comes after the attorneys of inmates at the state prison asked federal judges this week to release the inmates to combat the pandemic, citing the illnesses of one inmate and 12 employees.

Newsom said a mass release of inmates would prevent a strain on hospitals and healthcare systems already overwhelmed. He has already suspended transfers into the prison system for 30 days.

Waters also explained that the majority of inmates granted clemency where under the age of 26 at the times of their crimes and have since participated in rehabilitation programs. The commutations were eligible to seek parole; however, release decisions will still be made by the Board of Parole Hearings.

Some of the offenders selected for clemency and pardoned are listed as follows:


  • Rodney McNeal, 50, of San Bernardino County has served 22 years for fatally stabbing his pregnant wife.
  • Kristopher Blehm, 35, of Santa Barbara County has served nearly 12 years for helping murder his crime partner’s romantic rival.
  • Jason Bryant, 40, of Shasta County has served 20 years for armed robberies, including one in which a victim was fatally shot by his crime partner.
  • Richard Flowers, 64, of Tulare County has served more than 25 years for killing a woman during a robbery.
  • Samuel Eldredge, 61, of Humboldt County has served 25 years for fatally shooting his crime partner’s roommate.
  • Rosemary Dyer, 67, of Los Angeles County has served more than 33 years for fatally shooting her husband.
  • Robert Glass, 48, of Los Angeles County has served more than 26 years for committing murder during a burglary.
  • James Harris, 56, of Los Angeles County has served more than 30 years for a drug-sales-related kidnapping and killing of two of his victims.
  • Shyrl Lamar, 68, of Sacramento County, who participated in a robbery in which her crime partner fatally stabbed two victims.
  • David Jassy, 45, Los Angeles County has served 11 years for killing a man during an altercation.
  • Ramon Rodriguez, 49, of Los Angeles County has served 22 years after he was paid to kill a victim.
  • Steven Bradley, 56, of Kern County has served 32 years for killing a gas station attendant during a robbery.


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