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Parole Denied in Murder of Developmentally Disabled Clovis Man



Composite image of Gov. Gavin Newsom and convicted murderer David Weidert
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Gov. Gavin Newsom has blocked parole for the killer of a developmentally disabled Clovis man who was buried alive in 1980.
Newsom on Thursday reversed an August decision by a state panel to grant parole to David Weidert.

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Portrait of Fresno County DA Lisa Smittcamp
“Today is a great day for justice in the state of California. Gov. Newsom made the right choice in denying this inmate the opportunity to be paroled.” — Fresno County DA Lisa Smittcamp 
Weidert, who is incarcerated at Soledad State Prison, can be considered for release again in a year.

Newsom: Weidert Poses Danger to Society

“I have considered the evidence in the record that is relevant to whether Mr. Weidert is currently dangerous,” Newsom wrote. “When considered as a whole, I find the evidence shows that he currently poses an unreasonable danger to society if released from prison at this time.”
Weidert, 57, was granted parole previously in 2016 and 2018. However, then-Gov. Jerry Brown reversed both decisions.
Weidert was sentenced to life in prison for killing 20-year-old Michael Morganti to cover up a $500 burglary Weidert committed.

Smittcamp: Legislative Fix Is Needed

“Today is a great day for justice in the state of California,” Fresno County DA Lisa Smittcamp said in a news release. “Gov. Newsom made the right choice in denying this inmate the opportunity to be paroled. However, change needs to be made in the legislation that currently allows Weidert the opportunity to be considered for release again in one year.”
Weidert, who was 17 at the time, lured Morganti to a car and took him to an isolated location in the foothills. He and a 16-year-old accomplice then forced Morganti to dig his own grave, beat him with a baseball bat and a shovel, stabbed him with a knife and choked him with telephone wire. Morganti eventually suffocated after being buried alive.

Details of the Murder

In a letter to Newsom last fall, Smittcamp provided the bone-chilling details of the murder.
“Weidert next stabbed Michael in the back near his spine, before he and his accomplice covered Michael with dirt. Barely clinging to life, Michael reached his hand from beneath the dirt covering his grave and grabbed Weidert’s leg. Michael pulled his head and upper torso above the dirt, but Weidert forced his head back down. Then Weidert and his accomplice tried to strangle Michael with the wire they had used to bind his hands behind his back.
“As Michael hopelessly tried to resist, inmate Weidert said, ‘You son of a bitch, die, die. This son of a bitch won’t die.’ ”
Smittcamp also opposed Weidert’s parole in 2015 and 2018.

(Associated Press contributed to this story.)

Bill McEwen is news director and columnist for GV Wire. He joined GV Wire in August 2017 after 37 years at The Fresno Bee. With The Bee, he served as Opinion Editor, City Hall reporter, Metro columnist, sports columnist and sports editor through the years. His work has been frequently honored by the California Newspapers Publishers Association, including authoring first-place editorials in 2015 and 2016. Bill and his wife, Karen, are proud parents of two adult sons, and they have two grandsons. You can contact Bill at 559-492-4031 or at Send an Email