Newsom reversed the Mar. 17 decision to grant Royce Elliott Casey parole

SAN LUIS OBISPO — San Luis Obispo District Attorney Dan Dow announced on Monday, Jul. 12, that Governor Gavin Newsom reversed the Board of Parole Hearings’ Mar. 17 decision to grant Royce Elliott Casey parole. 

Casey was convicted in 1997 based on his plea to first-degree murder along with his two accomplices, 16-year-old Jacob Delashmutt and 15-year-old Joseph Fiorella. Together, they brutally murdered 15-year-old Arroyo Grande High School Freshman Elyse M. Pahler in one of the most heinous pre-meditated murders committed in the history of San Luis Obispo County. The Governor’s Office sent a letter to District Attorney Dow by email on Sunday Morning, Jul. 11, notifying DA Dow of the Governor’s decision.

“I am grateful for and want to thank Governor Newsom for carefully evaluating the facts and circumstances of Elyse M. Pahler’s horrific murder committed by Royce Casey and his three accomplices and reviewing Royce’s present-day mental state. I am pleased with the Governor’s conclusion that agreed with my office’s evaluation that Casey continues to pose an unreasonable danger to society if he were to be released from prison at this time,” said District Attorney Dan Dow.


On Jun. 1, DA Dow wrote a letter to Governor Newsom urging him to use his authority to reverse the Board of Parole Hearings’ decision to allow Casey to be released on parole. In DA Dow’s letter, he argued that Mr. Casey remains a threat to public safety, as he “has never adequately explained why he participated in such a sadistic and heinous crime. In prior hearings, he did admit that while young Elyse was on the ground, after being strangled and stabbed, she cried out for her mother and for Jesus. When Royce Casey heard that, he stomped on her neck and head… We maintain that Casey still has not developed insight into the character defects that allowed him to participate in such a hideous crime.”

In Governor Newsom’s letter concluding that Mr. Casey poses an unreasonable danger to society at this time and should not be released, Governor Newsom explained in part:

“I have carefully examined the record for evidence that Mr. Casey’s insight and self-awareness have developed sufficiently to minimize his risk factors, including associating with negative peers, being swayed by violent and antisocial ideologies, and rationalizing brutal conduct for self-serving purposes. Mr. Casey’s discussion of the causative factors for his involvement in the crime are concerningly lacking. At his parole hearing, Mr. Casey discussed his fear of judgment and need to be accepted, saying, “I’ve tried to please people to protect myself from perceptions of when I was a little kid and being hurt and not having the ability to communicate or to express or to ask…for help from people that can help me.” I have determined that Mr. Casey must do additional work to deepen his insight into the causative factors of his crime and coping skills before he can be safely released on parole.”

The San Luis Obispo County District Attorney’s Office regularly appears with a Deputy District Attorney at the Board of Parole Hearings scheduled parole hearings to represent the interests of victims and the People of the State of California. District Attorney Dow is committed to ensuring that the impact of the crime on the victims/survivors is not forgotten and is properly considered at every stage of the criminal proceeding, including post-sentencing matters such as parole hearings.