Woman wins fight to keep daughter's killer behind bars

By Susan McRoberts , Staff Writer

A mother who lobbied the Whittier City Council and other local city leaders to adopt resolutions opposing the parole of her daughter's killer has seen her efforts rewarded.

The state Parole Board on Friday denied release to Danny Saul Rosales, who was convicted of second-degree murder for stabbing Barbara Gayton Romero, 24, to death in 1979 in Valinda.

"I'm relieved,' said Romero's mother Yolanda Ruiz, who presented resolutions from the Whittier council and 30 other cities to Parole Board members, asking them to deny parole for Rosales.

Ruiz also gave the board petitions signed by thousands of area residents when she flew to Sacramento on Thursday and testified at Rosales' parole hearing.

"Mr. Rosales is every mother's nightmare,' she told Parole Board members. "I gave my daughter life and he took it away. My child is forever in a 6-by-3-foot grave. She will never come out.'

The Parole Board decided Friday that Rosales, a known gang member, should remain in Folsom Prison for another three years before he is again eligible for parole.

Rosales has served 25 years of a 15-year-to-life sentence.

"I'm just worried that I'll have to do it all again in three more years,' Ruiz said last week as she waited at the Sacramento airport for a flight back to Southern California.

Rosales' attorney could not be reached for comment.

At Thursday's hearing, Rosales' mother testified that she is willing to give her son a home if he were to be released on parole. Rosales' attorney said the inmate found religion in prison and is now a devout Jehovah's Witness.

Ruiz is unconvinced.

"He hasn't really changed,' she said.

On Jan. 14, 1979, Romero and her three friends confronted Rosales as he stole things from Romero's car in Valinda, said Jim Jacobs, the retired Deputy District Attorney who prosecuted Rosales.

Rosales stabbed the women with a 12-inch hunting knife, killing Romero and wounding the three other women.

Jacobs said the murder took place while Rosales was high on PCP. He called it senseless.

"It was over a koala bear a $2.50 toy with bendable legs and arms. She had it on her gear shift and it was in his hand when she confronted him,' he said.

He, too, believes Rosales should stay in prison. Jacobs said Rosales was a gang member and is likely to offend again. The retired prosecutor also feels Rosales has not been punished enough for Romero's murder.

"He wakes up every morning, eats three squares a day and the rain doesn't fall on his little pumpkin head,' Jacobs said. "Our victim is laying in the ground dead. She will never see the sun again. She will never bring happiness to anybody.'

Susan McRoberts can be reached at (562) 698-0955, Ext. 3029, or by e- mail at sue.mcroberts@sgvn.com  .