WOODLAND -- It's been nearly two years since Kelly Choate was stabbed at a Woodland bar and later died.
It's been less than one year since Jeffrey Lemus was sentenced for his death.
Now, just a year into a seven year prison stay, Lemus wants out. His reason? Compassionate release.
"When somebody is degrading, and we're certain of their death, punishment and rehabilitation aren't relevant anymore," said defense attorney Mark Reichel.
The idea is to get inmates with short life expectancies out of prison.
His defense says Lemus is terminally ill and has less than six months to live.
"It may be better for everyone to pass away on the outside, and additionally, it can save taxpayers money," Reichel said.
A Yolo County judge didn't go for it. The district attorney's office says the defense didn't prove Lemus' death was imminent. The judge also said he's still a public safety risk.
Reichel says timing may also play a factor in the decision.
"If he was near the end of his sentence, I think it would be different, but this is the beginning, I think they get a feeling of 'hey you owe us something,'" Reichel said.
For now, Lemus will stay behind bars, but we're told the defense can refile and try to build a strong case for the man's release.
The victim's family released the following statement:
"My family and I feel pleased and very relieved with today's outcome. We were fearful Jeff would be released early and once again the justice we've hoped for seemed to be failing us all over again, but after the judges denial today we finally got a little closure. Jeff is right where he belongs and exactly where he should stay. I understand he wanted to come home and live out his last days with his family, but I'm sure there were many things my father wanted, like coming home that night from Kenny's Bar, but he didn't get that, nor will he ever get anything. I feel no compassion for Jeff nor do I expect to waste any more of my time on him. He has caused my family and I so much pain and suffering that I'm not ashamed to say , just maybe his illness is his karma. Judge Reed made the best decision he could have made today, not only on behalf of my family but for our community as well, and for that I am very grateful."