Carson man who killed wife in 1986 wins chance at parole
November 14, 2006
The Carson City man who murdered his estranged wife in 1986 won at least a chance at parole Tuesday from the Nevada Pardons Board.
Robert Gonzales, 68, has been in prison more than 21 years. Connie Gonzales, 34, was stabbed to death in the parking lot of a Carson City doctor’s office with her teenage daughter as one of the witnesses.
His lawyer told the board his wife had filed for a divorce the day before the killing.
“When she told him her lawyer would not even allow her to speak to him, he snapped,” said Harriet Cummings.
Testimony during trial indicated Gonzales had broken his wife’s nose two weeks earlier, and that there was a trail of domestic violence in the relationship.
He stabbed the victim numerous times before being knocked unconscious by a doctor at the office.
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Gonzales was originally sentenced to life without possible parole. But even Director of Corrections Glen Whorton recommended that be commuted to allow the possibility of parole because of the inmate’s exemplary record in prison.
He said Gonzales has worked hard to correct his behavior, and that his age now makes it unlikely there would be any problems releasing him.
The board consists of the seven justices of the Supreme Court, the attorney general and governor.
The only votes against commuting Gonzales’ sentence were from Attorney General George Chanos and Justice Michael Douglas.
The board also voted to commute the two life sentences imposed in Scott Fletcher’s case and the life sentence in Anthony Burns’ case, allowing both the possibility of parole.
Fletcher committed two murders when he was a teenager and has now spent nearly 32 years in the Nevada prison system. Burns was also 18 when he killed a man and has spent 23 years in prison.
In the case of a man given 123 years prison time, the major crime was sexual assault. But Juan High committed about a dozen other crimes during a two-day spree in 1983 and the trial judge stacked all the sentences consecutively.
Justice Bill Maupin said he put the case on the agenda because the way the sentences were imposed.
High was given 123 years total prison time plus life. Maupin said that even if High is paroled on each of the individual sentences for rape, robbery, burglary, drug possession and other crimes, he would have to serve 55 more years before being released.
The board collapsed all his sentences into a single life sentence with possible parole after three more years.
Chanos joined the other members in backing the sentence, advising High that it’s up to him to ensure his record over that period of time is clean and without major incidents.
The board also pardoned Buddie Ricks, 61, from his life sentence for second-degree murder.
Ricks served nine years in prison and has been on parole for the past 30 years. He told the board the rules for licensing were changed a couple of years ago and, as a result, he lost his job as a trucker because he was still on parole.
Parole officials in Nevada, Utah and Colorado where he has lived over the years have all recommended he be pardoned and the board Tuesday agreed.
• Contact reporter Geoff Dornan at email@example.com or 687-8750.