Convicted Napa Murderer Paroled. Your Thoughts?

Todd Ferguson, who played a part in the murder of a Napa High School teacher in 1983, was granted parole last week.

Has he paid the price or is it a mistake to set him free? That’s the question being asked by many this morning in the Napa Valley.

According to a story in the Napa Valley Register, 48-year-old Todd Ferguson has been paroled after spending almost 30 years in prison for his role in the December 1981 murder of Richard Philbert, who was working as a clerk at Val’s Liquors in addition to being a Napa High School teacher at the time.

The Register’s story said that Ferguson was the getaway driver in a murder/robbery attempt at the liquor store in 1981, while his accomplices Burl Bilyeu and Shane Quinell entered the store with rifles Ferguson stole from his father, and murdered Philbert and shot the store’s other clerk, Michael Clark, 13 times. Clark survived the ordeal.

According to the Register’s story, Ferguson was released from the Correctional Training Facility in Soledad, Calif. on July 18, this after being sentenced 15 years to life in prison after being convicted of second-degree murder in 1983. The Register's story attributed a quote to Napa County District Attorney Gary Lieberstein, who said Ferguson is not allowed to enter Napa County without the permission of his parole officer.

Here’s a question for the readers of Napa Patch. Should Ferguson, who was originally granted parole last year and fought for it until last week, have been released? What do you think? Tell us in the comments and vote in our poll!

For the latest reports on crime and arrests in Napa, please see our Police & Fire section, available from the News tab above and atnapa.patch.com/police-fire.

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Ray Sisemore July 25, 2012 at 06:53 PM
I believe he has paid his dues. 15 years to life and he spent 29 years behind bars. I only say this because he did not pull the trigger that night. The other two can rot in prison for all I care.
Joan Handrich July 25, 2012 at 09:36 PM
I am mixed. A young person committing murder does not look at the life ahead of him but lives for the moment. Could there be two lessons here, one that says twenty-nine years behind bars which certainly sounds like a lifetime to the young person, or another that says someone can pay the consequence but change in ways that are acceptable to society? What can history tell us? Joan Katz
Jeffrey Wright July 26, 2012 at 03:15 PM
Are you afraid to use your full name ?
Michael Quinn July 27, 2012 at 01:27 AM
I am will leave that up to the families and victims to decide.
Steven Grant Stratford July 28, 2012 at 04:58 AM
I believe he deserves a second chance. Who knows that he had any idea whatsoever that these other two people were going to commit murder in that store? Yes,he was a knowing accomplish to armed robbery, but he didn't kill anybody, and may not have had any idea what the other two had in mind. I seriously doubt that he will ever get himself into a similar situation again. He now KNOWS the consequences!


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