Crystal Bay killer gets a break | SierraSun.com
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Crystal Bay killer gets a break

Brendan Riley

CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) – Michael Anselmo, imprisoned in Nevada for more than 30 years for murdering a co-worker at a Lake Tahoe casino, got a sentencing break Wednesday that could result in his parole in a few years.The Nevada Pardons Board, chaired by Gov. Kenny Guinn, voted 6-3 to ease Anselmo’s no-parole life term for killing Trudy Ann Hiler so that he can seek a parole early next year. If paroled from that sentence, he’d have to serve at least two more years on a separate conviction for a 1976 prison escape before seeking a second parole that would return him to the streets.Anselmo, now 53, was 19 when he grabbed Hiler as she left the Cal Neva Lodge at Crystal Bay in July 1971. She had been working as a casino change girl to earn money for college. Anselmo, son of a Las Vegas newspaper editor, had just started working at the club as a busboy after serving eight months in jail for unlawful use of a credit card.Anselmo told authorities that he found the nude body of the 22-year-old victim hidden under a rock ledge near the casino, and was charged after being questioned. The victim had been stabbed a dozen times and strangled.At first, Anselmo said he acted while under the influence of a large amount of LSD, but during his trial denied the murder. He admitted to it after the state Pardons Board denied a similar clemency request in 1990.Supreme Court Justice Bob Rose, a Pardons Board member who as Washoe County district attorney had prosecuted Anselmo in 1971, pressed for an eased sentence, saying, “After 34 years, Michael has paid for his crime.”Rose also said that while it’s possible Anselmo could be paroled in about two years, it’s more likely that wouldn’t occur for at least four or five years.Anselmo told the board that he was sorry for his crime and had turned his life around while in prison by getting an education, holding responsible inmate jobs and trying to stay out of trouble.Asked about two prison escapes, Anselmo’s lawyer said the inmate’s father was dying and he wanted to see him before his death.Anselmo said he came from a good family but started having problems with the law began after the accidental drowning of his 18-month-old brother in a neighbor’s pool. Anselmo, nine at the time, said he blamed himself because he had been told to watch the child.In other action, the Pardons Board rejected a request for an eased sentence from Lawrence Baccari, convicted in the 1977 gunshot slaying of Debra Harrison in Las Vegas. Baccari had tried to pick her up, and he shot her as she stabbed at him with a stiletto.Also rejected was a request from Jeffrey Brillhart to have his six life sentences for sexual assault be rolled together to run concurrently.Lisa Kerwin, convicted in 1989 of shooting Tracy Hyland to death at a Reno residence, was granted parole eligibility in 2008; and Bennie Ficklin, who was 15 when he killed a Las Vegas bar customer during a 1981 robbery, was granted immediate parole eligibility.Harold Lyons, a convicted slot cheater listed in the state’s “black book” of people barred from casinos, had a no-parole life sentence eased to time served. He’s now eligible for parole from another life sentence. Both were imposed because of his designation as an habitual criminal.The Pardons Board consists of the governor, attorney general and the seven members of the Nevada Supreme Court.


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