Local woman fights to keep her brother's killer behind bars, urges voters to mark "No" on Prop 57

Posted at 6:12 PM, Nov 07, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-07 21:12:21-05

Highly debated Proposition 57 will be on ballots Tuesday. Supporters say it will alleviate over-crowded prisons and save tax payers tens of millions of dollars, but opponents say it will allow dangerous felons back on the streets.

One Bakersfield woman is fighting to keep the felon who changed her life behind bars. 

Sheila Metzger's brother was killed in 2007 and she thought when the man convicted for that deadly crash was sentenced he would spend all 13 years in prison. 

To her shock, after serving just half of his sentence he could be getting out and she says if people vote "Yes" on prop 57 it'll make it that much easier for him to be back on the streets.

"The phone rang and she said, not 'Hi, how are you?' she just said 'Sheila has the coroner called you?," said Metzger. 

It was August 12, 2007 when Metzger got the call that her brother, Bill Cuñha, had been killed in a car crash. 

"He was heading to his storage which was on the corner of Alondra and Broadway," said Metzger.

David Roberts, a man with a history of run-ins with the law, including robbery and reckless driving, ran a red light, slamming into Cuñha at 80 miles per hour, twice the speed limit.

As Gardena firefighters tried to save Cuñha from his burning truck, witnesses say Roberts ran away. 

Police eventually tracked him down and arrested him for vehicular manslaughter and felony hit and run.

Roberts posted bail and didn't spend a day in jail until 2009. 

That's when he finally took a plea deal and agreed to serve 13 years in prison.

Six years later - Metzger received a letter saying Roberts was eligible to apply for parole.

"I went to all of my family members and friends and had them write letters and we sent a thick package to the parole board," said Metzger.

The Los Angeles County District Attorney agreed, calling him dangerous and reckless.

He was denied parole, but in September Metzger got another letter saying because Roberts has served 50 percent of his sentence he is, once again, eligible for parole as a non-violent second striker.

"Each time he comes up for parole it just brings it all back and makes me that much more angry," said Metzger.

Metzger said if prop 57 passes it's just going to make it easier for Roberts to get out.

Opponents of prop 57 say felons convicted of crimes including assault with a deadly weapon, arson, and lewd acts with a child 14 or 15 and more would also be eligible to apply for early release.

However, supporters such as Governor Jerry Brown said there's a specific process and inmates must prove they're rehabilitated and are not a danger to the public in order to be granted parole.

"It allows carefully screened, non-violent offenders who have completed their primary sentence to apply for parole, not necessarily get it," Gov. Brown said in a recording posted on a "Yes" for 57 website. 

Governor Brown added that Prop 57 is necessary to alleviate over crowding in prisons and save tax payers money. 

Metzger agrees that something needs to change in our prison systems - but says prop 57 is not the answer.

"Redo the system. Make it more rational. I agree with you Jerry Brown it does need to be more rational, but your idea of rational is not real," said Metzger.

For now, all Metzger can do is wait to see if Prop 57 passes on Tuesday, but she said either way she'll continue to fight for justice in her brother's memory. 

"If I have to write 500 more letters, I'll write 500 more letters. I will do what I have to do to keep him in prison until he serves everyday of that 13 years," she said.

Right now Roberts is serving his time at a prison just north of Modesto.

He and Metzger will find out if he was granted parole on Wednesday.

For more information about Proposition 57 click here.