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Governor denies parole for James Mackey

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Posted: Wednesday, August 21, 2013 4:14 pm

Gov. Jerry Brown has denied parole for James Mackey, who was convicted more than two decades ago of killing a Stockton Realtor with a crossbow.

A parole board ruled Mackey, 49, eligible for parole during a hearing in March at Mule Creek State Prison in Ione.

However, Brown reversed the decision, stating that despite Mackey’s efforts to better himself while incarcerated, he is still a danger to society.

“Mr. Mackey does not adequately explain why he committed such a horrible crime,” Brown wrote in a parole review document. “Until he can give a better explanation for his actions, I do not think he is ready to be released.”

Mackey and Carl Hancock each received life sentences when they entered guilty pleas in 1989 to the first-degree murder of Stockton Realtor Laurence J. Carnegie. As part of the deal, Mackey and Hancock, former teammates on the University of the Pacific football team, became eligible for parole consideration by testifying against Stockton developer Michael Blatt.

At the time, Blatt was an NFL sports agent and interim general manager of the Seattle Seahawks. According to a statement released by the governor’s office, Blatt indicated to Mackey that a real estate deal involving Mackey and Blatt would go through if Carnegie “were no longer around.”

In Brown’s decision, he acknowledged that Mackey joined numerous self-help programs while behind prison walls, including alcoholics and narcotics anonymous, conflict resolution, anger management and more.

Mackey has consistently received exceptional ratings for his prison job performances, completed two vocations, obtained a real estate license and earned a master’s degree in humanities in 2008.

In a petition to overturn a 2010 parole denial, Mackey, a graduate of East Union High School in Stockton, said he wished to live with his wife in Manteca, where he has two job offers and support from family, community members and a minister.

“I commend Mr. Mackey for taking these positive steps,” Brown wrote. “But they are outweighed by negative factors that demonstrate he remains unsuitable for parole.”

Mackey and Hancock testified that the idea to kill Carnegie came from Blatt, who they said felt slighted by Carnegie after several failed business dealings and losing out on a permanent NFL executive position.

So Mackey and Hancock spent months scripting Carnegie’s death, before Hancock lured him to a rural home east of Lodi by posing as a potential homebuyer in February 1989.

At the home, Mackey, considered the leader of the two men, hid in the garage and shot Carnegie with a crossbow. But the crossbow bolt didn’t kill Carnegie, so Mackey beat him until he was unconscious.

Mackey and Hancock abandoned their plan to dump Carnegie in Lake Tahoe, and instead drove from Lodi to a rural area of Sonoma. That’s where they fashioned a noose and strangled Carnegie to death.

They dumped his body down an embankment, changed their clothes, washed their car and returned home.

During his parole hearing, Mackey stated that he lost his identity once he stopped playing football. He felt isolated and depressed and wanted to stay in the good graces of Blatt, a wealthy businessman.

“But Mr. Mackey’s relentless pursuit of Mr. Carnegie’s death goes way beyond mere loyalty to Mr. Blatt,” Brown wrote. “His insecurity and desire for acceptance do not explain how he could meticulously plan and execute a cold-blooded murder.”

Several of Carnegie’s relatives wrote letters opposing Mackey’s parole and even spoke at his previous parole hearings.

Blatt was tried twice for orchestrating the murder. The first trial ended with the jury deadlocked 9-3 for conviction and the second ended 11-1 for acquittal.

Today, he lives in Sausalito and is a part owner of a drug and rehabilitation center.

In October 2012, Hancock, a prisoner at the California State Prison in Solano, was denied parole and will have to wait three years before petitioning the decision.

Contact reporter Kristopher Anderson at krisa@lodinews.com.

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