A man convicted in the 1975 murder of a California Highway Patrol officer near Los Banos will remain in prison for at least another 15 years, a state parole board has decided.
Harrill Hill, 57, was denied parole by the board Wednesday at California State Prison, Solano, where he is serving a life sentence for killing Officer Alfred R. Turner. Hill won't be eligible for parole again until 2024.
Merced County Chief Deputy District Attorney Mark Bacciarini, who appeared at Hill's parole hearing via video conference, said Hill became verbally belligerent and argumentative toward parole officials and family members of the victim during the hearing.
Hill had to be forcibly removed during the hearing, Bacciarini said.
Given Hill's demeanor at the hearing, Bacciarini said he's convinced that paroling him would be a threat to public safety. "There's no way that he should ever be out," Bacciarini said.
Hill's case falls under Marsy's Law, passed by state voters in November 2008. Under that statute, a convicted murderer can receive a parole hearing no more frequently than every three years and can be denied a follow-up parole hearing for as long as 15 years, according to the Office of the Attorney General.
Bacciarini said the board set Hill's next parole appearance for the furthest possible date under Marsy's Law. "Hopefully, the board's decision to deny another parole hearing for 15 years will give the (victim's) family a chance to have some peace, instead of having to relive this every three to five years," Bacciarini said.
Turner was shot by Hill around 10 p.m. Dec. 4, 1975, while patrolling Interstate 5 about eight miles south of Los Banos. He died of his injuries 12 days later.
The night of the shooting, Hill was driving a stolen Dodge Challenger with his 17-year-old half-brother, Leonard Williams, according to court documents.
Turner saw that the Challenger had a burned-out headlight and pulled the car over. The officer got out of his patrol car and walked toward Hill with his citation book. Hill got out of the Challenger and began walking toward the officer.
Hill, a San Francisco resident, pulled a .357 Magnum revolver and began shooting Turner from about 10 feet away. Shot in the abdomen, left shoulder and left arm, Turner was able to return fire, hitting Hill five times. The officer radioed for help, and Hill was arrested.
During his trial, Hill's defense attorney argued his client was under the influence of alcohol and marijuana, resulting in what a defense psychiatrist called "sort of a borderline psychotic condition," according to court documents.
The jury rejected the defense's arguments. Hill was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to death. Because the state Supreme Court determined the death penalty was unconstitutional, Hill's sentence was reduced to life in prison.
Turner worked for the CHP's Los Banos office and was a married father of two children.
An 11.3-mile stretch of Interstate 5 was named in his honor in 1998. Called the Alfred Turner Memorial Highway, it stretches on I-5 between Highways 152 and 165.
A total of 215 CHP officers have been killed in the line of duty since 1929.
Read the full story at the Merced Sun-Star.