A Path to Freedom—Again

ACLU, New Mexico Adult Parole Board trying to compromise for man’s release instead of slugging it out in court

Attorneys for a New Mexico man who has accused the state parole board of violating his constitutional rights by re-incarcerating him have asked a Santa Fe judge for time to negotiate his release, rather than litigating the issue in court.

Shane Lasiter, 57, spent 40 years in prison after an armed robbery attempt ended when he shot a Lordsburg Dairy Queen owner to death in 1981. Lasiter, who was 16 at the time, was convicted of murder, and the New Mexico Adult Parole Board denied his requests for release four times beginning in 2011. After a change to its rules, the board paroled Lasiter following a fifth hearing last spring.

SFR highlighted Lasiter’s struggle for release in a cover story last year that examined parole procedures and youth sentencing.

Lasiter wasn’t free for very long.

Authorities re-arrested him in January—six months after he walked out of the Lea County Correctional Facility in Hobbs—accusing him of violating the conditions of his release. The allegation: Lasiter had been in the company of a young Albuquerque woman who was wanted on an armed robbery warrant. (Parolees are not to “knowingly associate with any person who is a detriment” to their parole.)

But Lasiter did not know about the warrant. For that and a host of other reasons, his legal team at the American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico used a special court rule to file a constitutional challenge to the parole revocation. It landed in front of First Judicial District Judge Maria Sanchez-Gagne, who was set to decide whether the state Supreme Court should hear the case.

Now, it appears that won’t be necessary.

Lasiter’s attorneys on Wednesday filed a motion to stay the proceedings until Sept. 6, “pending negotiations” with the parole board.

“The New Mexico Adult Parole Board has agreed to resolve this matter through a mutually agreeable plan to parole Mr. Lasiter to a suitable halfway house,” Denali Wilson, one of Lasiter’s attorneys, wrote in the motion. Wilson added that her client has been accepted at Dismas House in Albuquerque.

“Additional details remain to be confirmed and parties seek a stay to confirm a plan for release on parole,” Wilson’s motion continued.

Sanchez-Gagne has not ruled on the motion for stay, but it appears likely to succeed. That’s because Donna Bevacqua-Young of the state Attorney General’s Office, which represents the parole board in legal matters, did not oppose the motion.

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