SACRAMENTO — One day before their loved one’s killer comes up for parole, a local family is putting up a fight against the state’s parole board, claiming the board is violating laws that should protect victims’ families.
It’s been nearly 40 years since Nina Salarno’s sister Catina was brutally murdered by her ex-boyfriend on her first day of college at the University of the Pacific. The tragedy left her dark memories she says still haven’t gone away.
“Called her that evening, asked her to meet him and then he executed her and left her for dead,” said Salarno.
She’s been fighting for the rights of crime victims and their loved ones ever since, as president of the organization Crime Victims United California. Now she’s had to take the helm of her own family’s battle. Her sister’s killer, Steve Burns, is up for parole Wednesday — his 10th time.
This year though, not all family members and supporters will be allowed to come.
“We have been told now that the rest of our family is not even allowed on the prison grounds,” said Salarno at a press conference Tuesday afternoon.
“Because they were asking to have a couple dozen people than were approved to be in the parole hearing room, they asked for a video feed to allow for people to sit in another room in the prison and watch the hearing,” said Jeffrey Callison, spokesman for the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, in response to questions about why the Salarno family couldn’t bring guests this year, as they have in the past.
Callison says because the video request was denied by the Department of Corrections parole board, where the hearing will take place, it has also denied the family’s request to allow supporters on prison grounds.
Callison added video inside parole hearings has been banned for the past five years, a rule the Salarno family was just made aware of days ago.
“Parole hearings are horrible. For my parents especially to have to endure hearing the details of the murder of their daughter again and again and again,” said Salarno.
Afterward, the family met with the Department of Corrections and eventually released a statement saying it will allow seven family members, friends and supporters onto prison grounds in addition to Mrs. Salarno.
The statement went on to say: “at no point, was the Salarno family denied access to participate in this hearing. Consistent with state policy and to maintain safety, security and the integrity of the hearing process, it’s not possible to accommodate additional supporters…”
The hearing is set for 8:30 a.m. Wednesday.