Kern County District Attorney Cynthia Zimmer and the family of a 1979 Bakersfield murder victim responded to Gov. Gavin Newsom’s decision to commute the offender’s sentence.
Dwayne Allen was sentenced to life in prison without possibility of parole for the murder of Chhotubhai Patel at the Knight’s Rest Motel on Union Avenue in March 1979. Patel was the part-owner of the motel after immigrating from Zambia in 1978, according to a news release from the DA’s office.
“At the same time Governor Newsom commuted the sentence of Dwayne Allen, he pardoned an immigrant murderer so she would not be deported,” Zimmer said in the news release. “It is a pity that the Governor’s concern extends only to immigrant murderers, but apparently excludes immigrant victims of murder.”
The DA’s office objected to the commutation of Allen’s sentence. The news release said neither the DA’s office nor Patel’s family were given prior notice of the commutation.
“The loss today is as great and difficult as if it happened yesterday,” Patel’s family said in a statement issued by the DA’s office.
Patel’s family “never recovered” from the murder and lost the business after his death, according to the DA’s office.
“Mrs. Patel recently passed away. She never remarried and carried a deep sadness for her husband for the rest of her life,” the DA’s office said.
On March 13, 1979, Allen shot Patel at point-blank range in the motel lobby during a burglary. Allen formerly lived at the motel and moved out the month before after not paying rent, the DA’s office said. Patel, who died within hours of being shot, told police at the scene that the shooter was Allen, who was arrested the next morning.
On Friday, Newsom granted 13 pardons and 21 commutations to CDCR inmates. In March, Newsom commuted the sentences of 22 inmates, including convicted Kern County murderer Steven Bradley.
In a news release, Newsom said Allen has dedicated 41 years of incarceration toward rehabilitation.
“Mr. Allen earned his GED, completed vocational training and maintained consistent employment throughout his incarceration, routinely receiving exceptional work ratings from his supervisors,” Newsom said.
“I have carefully considered and weighed the evidence of his positive conduct in prison, the fact that he was a youthful offender, his advanced age and long-term confinement and his good prospects for successful community reentry.”
A commutation will allow Allen, 62, to go before the Board of Parole Hearings at which the parole commissioners determine whether he’s suitable for release from prison, according to Newsom’s office.
In a Facebook post Monday, Zimmer said the DA’s office will continue seeking justice for Patel’s family.