Convicted killer granted parole under California 'elderly people law'; Victim's family speaks out

Walter Joseph Lewis, a convicted 2-time murderer, is set to be released on parole under the California Elderly Parole Law. 

Lewis, who brutally stabbed a man to death when he was 18 and later used a hammer to attack and kill Robert Chartier in 1979 in San Diego, had previously served 13 and a half years for his first crime.

The news has left the Chartier family in disbelief, as they had expected Lewis to spend the rest of his life behind bars. 

"We're just in shock that it's even happening. I can't believe that somebody would approve of this man being released. They were violent murders, they weren't self-defense," said Karla, a family member.

Under the provisions of the California Elderly Parole Law, anyone over 50 years old who has been in custody for 20 years or more is entitled to a parole eligibility hearing. 

Why would a 50-year-old be considered elderly? 

Kathleen Cady, a retired LA County Prosecutor, and victim's rights advocate shed light on the legislative reasoning behind this, explaining, "Looking at the legislative history, they talk about how someone who is 50 years or older, their risk of violence has gone down."

Lewis, now 76, is set to be released on Friday, much to the concern of those who fear he may pose a threat to society. 

"People over 50 kill, and if it's in you, it's in you. I don't think there's an age limit to a demon," Karla said.

She said she fears for her family's safety.

The controversy surrounding Elderly Parole Law has intensified in recent years, with hundreds of inmates being granted parole under this program. According to CDCR records, 317 inmates were granted parole in 2020, 360 in 2021, and 493 in 2022. 

Addressing those who approved Lewis's parole, Karla asked, "If it was your family member, would you just stamp that seal of approval and come on out?"