WOODLAND (CBS13) - A California inmate who was serving a 125-year-to-life sentence for arson and making threats to rape and kill is being released from prison because of COVID-19.
The release of "Three Striker" Santiago Cruz of Sacramento is part of the CDCR's efforts to reduce its inmate population to keep inmates safe from the deadly coronavirus, according to a statement from the Yolo County District Attorney's office.
Since February 2020, CDCR has released approximately 10,000 inmates early.
Cruz has been in prison since 1997. In 1994, his marriage ended after he allegedly abused his spouse -- both verbally and physically, according to the DA's office. After the divorce was finalized, his ex-wife obtained a permanent restraining order against Cruz who allegedly continued to harass her, ultimately landing him back in prison on a parole violation.
After getting out of prison, Cruz reportedly terrorized his ex-wife's new boyfriend and his children. In one instance, Cruz allegedly threw a Molotov cocktail at the home where his ex-wife and two children were sleeping. Further, during one phone call to the boyfriend's 18-year-old daughter, Cruz allegedly threatened to rape and kill her while her father watched, then kill him, the DA's office stated.
The jury convicted Cruz of three counts of criminal threats, attempted arson and arson. Since Cruz had been previously convicted of two prior strikes for robbery and armed robbery, he became a "Three Striker." On October 23, 1997, the court sentenced Cruz to 125 years-to-life.
Cruz's ex-wife told the D.A.'s office is opposed to the decision to release the felon.
"A dangerous person is being released into society again and it's not fair to her, her family and society in general," Cruz's ex-wife told the D.A.'s office. She said she feels that she's "now the one in prison."
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