Parole Board Delays Decision on Parole for Teen Killer; Victims Services Becomes Campaign Issue in DA’s Race

By Robert J. Hansen

On Monday, the members of the Board of Parole Hearings (BPH) decided that further review was warranted for the parole of 43-year-old Daniel Robinson who was convicted of killing 16-year-old Robert Castro in a gang-related drive-by shooting in 1996, according to the Yolo County District Attorney’s office.

Robinson, who was 17 years old at the time, and his friends were associated with the 29th Street Crips.

Because they felt disrespected by the Broderick Boys, a West Sacramento gang, they decided to get revenge by shooting Castro.

Robinson was sentenced to 18 years to life in state prison and on December 15, 2021, was granted a tentative parole date by a two-member BPH panel, according to the DA’s office.

In a letter, Robert Castro’s mother, Violet Castro, said her family’s lives were forever changed.

“We have had to sit across the table from the man who murdered my son,” Castro said. “Without the support of DA Reisig for the last 26 years, I’m not sure I would have been able to take this journey on my own.”

Castro said she is disappointed in Reisig’s challenger in this year’s primary election, Cynthia Rodriguez because she believes Rodriguez will “no longer go to lifer hearings to support me and our family.”

In her response to a question in an ACLU DA candidate survey, Rodriguez said the DA’s office would not necessarily attend parole hearings in every case, and decisions on how best to support families would be made on a case-by-case basis.

“In this case, I am not familiar enough to know how best to support the family, whether that be a victim’s advocate or other support services,” Rodriguez said. “Of course, there would be an evaluation on how best to support families who are victims of violent crimes.”

Rodriguez said that the district attorney shouldn’t be advocating for a prisoner to remain in prison or be released unless they have some intimate knowledge of the case.

“Each decision would be made on a case by case scenario,” Rodriguez said. “I feel for the Castro family but the DA should not always be sitting next to every family that goes to a parole hearing.”

Under state law, anyone under 25 years old, convicted of a crime, can be eligible for resentencing if they have had good behavior.

Governor Gavin Newsom referred the decision to the full Board of Parole Hearings to decide whether the two-member panel’s decision to grant parole was improper and did not serve the interests of justice, based on the concerns included in the governor’s referral dated March 25, 2022.

Yolo County District Attorney Jeff Reisig expressed his satisfaction with the Board of Parole Hearing’s decision.

“Board members took the concerns expressed by Governor Newsom to heart,” Reisig said in the press statement. “This was a senseless and horrific gang shooting of a 16-year-old boy who was targeted simply because Robinson and his fellow gang members felt disrespected by the Broderick Boys. Robinson’s very recent violations in prison made the Governor and Board of Parole Hearings uncomfortable with releasing him back into the community.”

Chief Deputy District Attorney Jonathan Raven attended a May 17 hearing on behalf of the Yolo County District Attorney’s Office.

Robert Castro’s mother, Violet Castro, father, and sister also attended the hearing.

Raven told commissioners that the Yolo County District Attorney’s Office agreed with the concerns expressed by the Governor and that Robinson’s very recent rules violations, which occurred after the two-member panel tentatively granted him parole, raised significant issues regarding how the release of Robinson could present a threat to the public.

Robinson’s rules violations were not disclosed by the DA.

The BPH was also asked to consider the information on institutional misconduct from March 22, and confidential information from April 19.

Based on the request of the governor, and the new information, BPH set a “rescission” hearing to determine whether the two-member BPH panel made the appropriate decision at the December 15 hearing.

Robinson had been denied parole at two prior hearings, in 2014 and 2019.

Robinson’s “rescission” hearing, to determine whether he will be released into the community, will be scheduled for a date shortly.

About The Author

Robert J Hansen is an investigative journalist and economist. Robert is covering the Yolo County DA's race for the Vanguard.

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