Riverbank Mother Furious to Learn Son’s Killer May Soon Be Released

RIVERBANK -- The devastation that took place at an AM-PM in Riverbank eight years ago still plays out for Michelle Bettencourt.

"It’s like you’re murdering my son all over again," she said.

Bettencourt's 21-year-old son, Chaz, was gunned down in an attempted carjacking by convicted killer Turlock Diaz, who was just 14 years old at the time.

"He should take responsibility as an adult because he made that adult decision when he put that gun in his hand," Bettencourt said.

Now, because of a state appellate court's decision made back in March, the now 23-year-old Diaz may soon walk free.

"Why should he have a second chance? Chaz doesn’t get to come home, he doesn’t get to call us, he doesn’t get to talk to us, write to us," she said. "He doesn’t get any of that. So why should (Diaz)?"

A conditional reversal was issued in March, which means a Stanislaus County juvenile hall judge will determine whether Diaz will be tried as an adult.

Two laws will impact the case. Senate Bill 1391 eliminates the ability to try a 14 or 15-year-old defendant as an adult. That goes into effect on Jan. 1.

Then there’s Proposition 57, which voters approved in 2016.

"More of removing the discretion from the prosecutor and placing it into a neutral judicial officer, so I think that’s really important,” said criminal defense attorney Richard Meyer.

Diaz's decades-long sentence may now be shortened to two years in juvenile custody or until he ages out of the system at 25, unless the judge sees SB 1391 as unconstitutional.

Diaz’s attorney declined to comment for this story.

"All he’s going to do is earn stripes on the street because he beat the system and he got away with it,” Bettencourt told FOX40. “He got away with murder, that’s what you’re saying.

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