Former San Bernardino County probation officer convicted of killing wife, unborn child granted parole

Rodney McNeal was initially sentenced to 30-years-to-life in prison for the March 1997 murders of his wife and unborn daughter in Highland.
SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. (KABC) -- A former San Bernardino County probation officer convicted of killing his wife and unborn daughter has been granted parole.

Rodney Patrick McNeal was originally sentenced to 30-years-to-life in prison for the March 1997 murders of 39-year-old nursing student Debra McNeal and her unborn daughter in Highland.

McNeal was convicted and sentenced in 2000.

San Bernardino County District Attorney Jason Anderson called the parole board's decision "appalling."

"I was shocked. I don't know what the standards are anymore when it comes to parole board decisions," Anderson said.

"This is a guy who filed a false insurance claim after the murders to claim it was burglary or robbery in order to get money for items that in fact were not taken," Anderson added.

The California Innocence Project took on his case, claiming evidence shows someone else committed the murders, but they failed to get the conviction reversed.

Shantel Haynes, Debra McNeal's daughter from another marriage, said she is shocked about the decision and that McNeal has never shown remorse.

"I have been trying tirelessly for the past 23 years to make sure he stays behind bars and serves his sentence," Haynes said.

Last March, Gov. Gavin Newsom commuted the sentence, saying McNeal has "committed himself to his self-improvement" while incarcerated. But the D.A. says McNeal was not without trouble.

"I do know that McNeal possessed contraband cellphones, he possessed heroin," Anderson said.

In granting parole, the board says it finds McNeal does not pose an unreasonable risk of danger.

"It feels like they're just sweeping her under the rug, discounting the fact that she was a pregnant woman trying to escape domestic violence," Haynes said.

The D.A. says he will send a letter to Newsom asking him to deny the recommendation for parole and a Change.org petition has been started by the victim's family asking people to write to the governor.
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