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Parole considered for three convicted killers

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Three convicted killers are up for parole. Whether they get their second chance is up to the Parole Board to decide. Members clearly have some tough decisions ahead.

They can't forgive or forget. Over 20 years ago, 20-year-old Walter Muya was killed in the island's first ever driveby shooting. According to family who testified before Parole Board members today, Muya was on his way to a barbeque with friends when a bullet went through his head, behind his ear, and straight through his brain. Although he wasn't affiliated with gangs, Muya fell victim in the cross-fire.

After serving 23 years behind bars, his shooter, Billy Cao Cruz, is eligible for parole, a reality that upsets the victim's family and prompted them to tearfully plead to parole members. "I feel that Walter did not truly come to rest until the day his murderer was sentenced to 30 years. My brother must be rolling over in his grave now, because there is a chance that Billy Cao Cruz might be released early," said Eilane Muya Perez.

Perez was joined by her husband John, her sister Xenia, and mother and father Edmundo and Rosario Muya. The family say they have never seen Cruz show remorse for his actions.

But it's not only the Muyas begging for mercy. The Cruz family also provided tearjerking testimony.

Dennis Cruz, a registered nurse, visits his brother Billy monthly. Dennis is just one of many family members ready and willing to provide Billy the support he needs. "In my heart, I know if Billy were paroled today, he will do the right thing," said Dennis.

Billy's father George also made a plea for forgiveness, saying, "I'm sorry to the family. We all feel sorry that it happened this way. We all have to learn to forgive. We are sorry for the victim's family. The victim's family is mad at us but they have to learn to let it go."

Although the Cruz family contends Billy had made an attempt to apologize, it's not clear why the Muyas were never notified.

Whether Cruz should be given a second chance is now up to parole board members. For board chairperson Michelle Taitano, she understands the testimonies were a "re-opening of wounds" and stated "when the parole board releases an inmate, we want their success."

The tough decision ahead had parole member Ignacio Pangelinan questioning whether Guam should re-instate the death penalty which was last effective in the 1950's. He stated, "That'll be the day...If we bring back the death penalty. There's nothing we can do as parole members. We just follow the law also."

Meanwhile, Parole Board members like pastor Tom Van Engen encouraged both families to forgive and recommended the Cruz family also write apology letters to the Muya family.

The Parole Board acknowledged Cruz successfully completed 26 programs while incarcerated but also committed 7 violations. One of those violations was a video which he produced and posted online in 2009. The 36-minute long documentary entitled "Bad Boyz Gone Good" depicts more than two dozen inmates preparing and enjoying  barbeque on prison grounds and pokes fun at the scenes with captions that state "yes, we are actually doing hard time."

Cruz isn't alone in his request for parole. Also heard at today's meeting were convicted killers, Jonathan Spence and John Jr. Pangelinan.

KUAM's videocameras were prohibited from today's hearing as requested by the families. Only still photos were allowed.

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