Jacob Hutchins, 39, who had been convicted of the murder of a fellow Napa teenager in 1998, was granted parole after a May 16 hearing before the Board of Parole at Chuckawalla State Prison, Napa District Attorney Allison Haley announced.
Hutchins was convicted of the murder of Michael Arreguin, 18, and sentenced to 42 years to life in prison. Hutchins, in the company of fellow gang members, shot Arreguin in the face from a vehicle, the district attorney said in a news release.
Hutchins was convicted at a jury trial of second-degree murder, shooting from a vehicle, and firearm and gang enhancements.
In 2018, Gov. Jerry Brown commuted Hutchins’ sentence to 20 years to life, stating, “Mr. Hutchins committed a very serious crime, but he has distinguished himself by his exemplary conduct and rehabilitation in prison.”
Deputy District Attorney Lance Hafenstein argued against the release of Hutchins based upon the cruelty and callousness of the murder and his gang associations, according to the DA's office.
The Parole Board found Hutchins suitable for parole and that he was not an unreasonable risk of danger to society if released from prison, noting his young age and diminished culpability when he committed his crime. The decision will be reviewed by the Board of Parole Hearings and can be reviewed by the governor.
Hutchins qualified for Youth Offender parole, instituted to reduce prison overcrowding for those who were under age 23 at the time their offense. The Parole Board is required to give “great weight” to the diminished culpability of juveniles as compared to adults, the hallmark features of youth, and any subsequent growth and increased maturity of the inmate in determining suitability, the DA said.
“The family of Michael Arreguin left a Napa courtroom over 20 years ago believing that the man responsible for their loved one’s death would not be eligible for parole for 42 years," Haley said. "Now, they suffer from both the lifelong loss of Michael and a profound betrayal by a system that simply did not honor its word.”