Man convicted in ’71 Tahoe murder on February parole board agenda |

Man convicted in ’71 Tahoe murder on February parole board agenda

Michael Anselmo, who has been behind bars 34 years for murdering a 22-year-old girl at North Lake Tahoe, will get his first chance Feb. 13 to petition the parole board for early release.

Anselmo got his first major break in December when the Nevada Pardons Board voted to commute his life sentence to allow the possibility of parole.

He was an 18-year-old busboy at the Cal-Neva Lodge when he grabbed Trudy Ann Hiler, 22, as she left the resort after finishing her swing shift in July 1971. Her body was found two days later under a rock ledge between the casino and Lake Tahoe. She had been stabbed and strangled to death.

Anselmo, now 53 and one of the longest-serving inmates in Nevada’s system, got that break at the urging of the man who put him behind bars – then Washoe District Attorney and now Supreme Court Justice Bob Rose.

“I do believe he should have the opportunity to go before the parole board,” Rose told the other justices, attorney general and governor who make up the pardons board. “After 34 years in prison, Michael has paid for his crime.”

But even if the parole board grants him release on the murder charge, Anselmo won’t get out of prison yet. He must still serve a 10-year sentence for escaping from the prison in 1976. He must serve at least 2 1/2 years of that sentence before becoming eligible for parole.

Also on the Feb. 13 agenda is Bennie Ficklin, who has spent nearly 25 years in prison for a murder committed when he was 15.

Ficklin, now 40, also had his sentence commuted from life without parole to life with the possibility of parole by the pardons board in December.

He was robbing a Las Vegas bar when he put a shotgun to the head of a customer he thought wasn’t cooperating and pulled the trigger.

Like Anselmo, he too received support from an unlikely place. Director of Corrections Glen Whorton who said he has dealt with the inmate since he was imprisoned. Citing Ficklin’s age at the time of the crime and the fact he believes Ficklin has been a model prisoner, Whorton recommended immediate eligibility for parole.

In both cases, the governor and all seven members of the Supreme Court supported commutation. Newly appointed Attorney General George Chanos voted no in both cases.

A third inmate granted relief by the pardons board is also on the Feb. 13 parole board agenda.

Harold Lyons, 70, is serving life as an habitual criminal for a variety of drug and other crimes over his lifetime. He too will get the chance to convince the parole board he is ready for release.

n Contact reporter Geoff Dornan at or 687-8750.