SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) -- Next month, a man convicted of a heinous murder more than 40 years ago will be eligible for parole. But the victim's family says the mere possibility that could happen is a miscarriage of justice that has victimized the family for decades.
25-year-old Frank Carlson was with his wife Annette in their small house in Portrero Hill in San Francisco when an intruder broke in, tied him to a chair and beat him to death with a hammer and a wooden cutting board.
"…in what is probably one of the most horrific crimes scenes ever encountered by police," said Carlson's younger brother Eric at a news conference on Sunday. "After he was dead, he took my sister-in-law upstairs and raped her repeatedly for hours and hours."
Then, leaving Annette for dead, the killer set fire to the house and left. Miraculously, she survived and a man named Angelo Pavageau, who lived nearby, was tried, convicted and sentenced to death plus 54 years.
But two years later, the court struck down California's death penalty and all condemned prisoners at the time were given life with the possibility of parole. At the time there was no such thing as a life sentence without the possibility of parole.
The victim's brother, Eric, says because of this, every three years or so Annette Carlson and the family have had to appeal to the parole board to make sure Pavageau stays in prison.
"This experience shattered her beyond words and the process makes her live it over and over and over again," said Eric Carlson.
The system has trapped the family in a prison of their own, never able to get past that terrible night. But in 2008, voters approved the Crime Victims' Bill of Rights, or "Marsy's Law," which gives parole boards the ability to defer parole hearings for inmates like Pavageau, now in his 70s, for up to 15 years instead of the current three.
"We're asking that on behalf of Annette and the surviving family," said Michael Agoglia, an attorney who will be pleading the family's case before the parole board.
Pavageau's next parole hearing will be on April 15 at the California Medical Facility in Vacaville, where he is imprisoned. Eric Carlson says the family will be there again, seeking to keep the killer behind bars and hoping the board will invoke Marsy's Law and greatly extend the time to his next hearing.
Perhaps as a way to avoid Marsy's Law, Pavageau has waived his last three parole hearings. But he cannot avoid the hearing in April and the family is hoping that following that, his next chance for freedom won't come for a very long time.
"Nobody can bring my brother back," Eric said, "but what people can do is help us get through this. And that's the tragedy of the process, because the process isn't designed with us in mind."
The Carlson family says public support is important in cases like theirs and they have set up a website, www.justiceforfrank.org, for people who would like to help.
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