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Petition leads Gov. Newsom reversing decision to parole man convicted of murder, torturing infant

Gavel with Scales of Justice (FILE)
Posted at 3:05 PM, Nov 23, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-23 18:05:25-05

KERN COUNTY, Calif. (KERO) — Kern County District Attorney Cynthia Zimmer announced Tuesday that a man convicted of murdering and torturing an infant won't be paroled.

The California Board of Parole Hearings had recommended the parole and release of Michael Panella, an inmate serving a life sentence for the murder by torture of a 20-month-old infant, but Gov. Gavin Newsom reversed the decision.

The governor exercised his authority to reverse the recommendation for parole that had been issued by the Board of Parole hearings, preventing Panella’s imminent release on parole. (Governor’s reversal letter attached).

Panella was convicted of first-degree murder by torture in 2000 in Kern County and sentenced to 25 years to life in prison in Kern County case SC080135. His appeal was denied in the court of appeals in 5th District Court of Appeals case.

Panella murdered baby Jonathan on Nov. 27th, 1999. Jonathan’s body had more than 40 bruises to the abdomen, with severe blunt force trauma that caused internal bleeding, which caused him to bleed to death over the course of 5 to 8 hours, according to court documents.

“While there are many areas where the governor and I don’t see things the same way, it is encouraging to learn that on the issue of whether a convicted child torturer and murderer should be released after 20 years spent using drugs and defrauding the victim’s family from prison, we can agree. I applaud the reversal and am grateful to all members of the community that shared their concerns with the governor’s office,” said Zimmer.