Loren Herzog’s new parole date is in mid-September, after state parole officials recalculated a clerical error and his public defender had no objections Wednesday.
The convicted killer’s release date had been scheduled for last Sunday, until authorities uncovered an error in which a court clerk had twice given Herzog 152 days worth of credit for time in the county jail.
But those additional days do not equal a similarly lengthened prison time, which his victim’s parents learned this week: It’s actually 54 days.
“I think there’s something wrong. Somebody made a mistake,” John Vanderheiden said Wednesday, after a brief court appearance on the matter.
A spokesman for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation said analysts recalculated Herzog’s credits and arrived at a mid-September release date. They used a number of complex calculations, which spokesman Luis Patino did not yet have on Wednesday afternoon.
The man who prosecuted Herzog, San Joaquin County Deputy District Attorney Thomas Testa, told a judge Wednesday that Herzog’s release date is Sept. 17, and asked how that was possible.
“All we’re doing is straightening out a clerk’s error,” Judge F. Clark Sueyres said. “After that, it’s in the hands of the Department of Corrections.”
Public Defender Peter Fox, who represented Herzog during his first murder trial and his subsequent plea deal to lesser charges, said he had no objection to the matter.
Attorneys and the parents of victim Cyndi Vanderheiden assembled briefly in a French Camp courtroom where juvenile matters are typically heard. The judge was filling in this week for a vacationing judge, so the matter was held there rather than the main downtown Stockton courthouse.
By now, John and Theresa Vanderheiden are used to court appearances, and they made the drive from their home in Clements. Their 25-year-old daughter vanished in Nov. 1998, and four months later Herzog and his lifelong friend Wesley Shermantine were arrested.
Both men were charged with multiple murders, and the Vanderheidens attended every pre-trial date. Then they spent months in Santa Clara, where the men’s separate trials were moved due to publicity in the case.
Juries convicted both men in 2001, with Shermantine heading off to death row and Herzog sentenced to 78 years in prison. Three years later, an appeals court threw out Herzog’s convictions, ruling that investigators had coerced him and kept questioning him after he said he wanted to stop talking.
With his hours of taped statements no longer allowed into evidence, prosecutors reached a deal: Herzog pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter in Cyndi Vanderheiden’s death and accessory to three other murders, and he was sentenced to 14 years in prison.
Prison officials calculated credits for time in the county jail during his first case, time in prison and the second stint in the county jail after the appellate decision.
Herzog’s time is now nearly up, and the next issue is where he should live while on three years of parole. The current plan is to return him to San Joaquin County, though he must stay 35 miles away from the Vanderheidens.
Whether his parole location could change is not yet known, Patino said, because parole officials are still reviewing protection requests from other victims and witnesses.
One woman who testified against Herzog has changed her routine and is scared about his release, Testa said.
“This many years later, she still doesn’t go out of the house alone,” he said.