A 64-year-old man convicted of fatally stabbing his girlfriend 31 years ago because he wrongly thought she was cheating on him was granted parole on his sixth try.
A two-person Board of Parole Hearings panel found James Harold Ward suitable for release because he has not had a serious rule violation since 1989, has programmed well while incarcerated and has “appropriate” parole plans like a place to stay and job leads, according to the District Attorney’s Office.
District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe, who prosecuted Ward in 1983, said his office opposed release because “we thought he wasn’t ready.”
The panel’s decision is next reviewed by a parole board and then by the governor’s office which can veto the release.
James Harold Ward is serving 26 years to life for the Oct. 20, 1982, death of his girlfriend. He pleaded no contest to first-degree murder and using a knife just after opening statements were made in his 1983 trial.
Ward stabbed his girlfriend in her apartment near Woodside Road because he thought she was unfaithful, Wagstaffe said.
“That was absolutely untrue. She was a good person,” he said.
Ward had been previously convicted of assault with a deadly weapon for attacking a prior girlfriend with a knife.
While the parole board gave Ward a chance at freedom, it did not feel similarly about Jose Timoteo Guevara who also came before them at Solano State Prison. Guevara, 41, is serving 15 years to life for a pair of rapes on two different days in 1995.
“He’s a real dangerous guy,” Wagstaffe said.
Guevara, who was the first San Mateo County defendant convicted and sentenced under the state’s one strike law for certain sexual assault convictions, was found unsuitable and denied parole for another five years.
A jury convicted Guevara in October 1995 of two counts of forcible rape, false imprisonment and making felony threats. A multiple victim allegation found true is what sent him to prison for life.
Wagstaffe said there was the belief Guevara committed more rapes but it was never proven.
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