A man who was sentenced to prison in 1983 for the murders of two people is now being considered for release from prison after his daughter traveled to Sacramento to plead for the release of her 90-year-old father, who is in ailing health. Donna McClelland, daughter of Ernest “Kentucky” Pendergrass, asked at the Board of Parole Hearings that her father be considered a candidate for a compassionate release. A state parole panel did rule that Pendergrass is incapacitated by poor health.
Pendergrass was convicted of murdering his romantic interest, Rosemary Edmonds, and her husband Rick Edmonds, after Rosemary decided to end her affair with Pendergrass and reconcile with her husband. Pendergrass did not directly kill Rick Edmonds himself, but was convicted of second-degree murder in his death because of his indirect involvement. After reconciling, the Edmondses were eating dinner with a friend when Pendergrass shot Rosemary through a window with a shotgun, striking her in the chest. Her husband was killed when the friend who was eating dinner with the couple inadvertently shot Rick Edmonds with a hunting rifle he had grabbed in the ensuing chaos.
In California, state law allows for the early release of individuals sentenced to life who are determined to be medically incapacitated or terminally ill. Pendergrass is described as having kidney disease, hypertension, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and progressive dementia; he is also unable to dress himself or shower without assistance, according to a news article at the Press Democrat.
After spending 30 years in prison, whether or not Pendergrass will be released will be decided by the Sacramento County court. If he is granted an early release, he may be set free from prison as early as June.
The fact that a state parole panel ruled that Pendergrass is eligible to have a judge consider releasing him due to poor health was described as a “little tiny victory” by his daughter.
As experienced Santa Rosa murder lawyers know, individuals who are convicted on charges of first- or second-degree murder face serious criminal penalties, including the loss of their freedom – sometimes for life.
Individuals who have been arrested for or charged with any homicide, manslaughter, or murder offense must speak with a capable and aggressive Santa Rosa criminal defense attorney immediately for the best chance of avoiding harsh criminal penalties.