Loren Herzog will not be released from prison Sunday, due to a clerical error in calculating the convicted killer’s sentence.
At a brief, unscheduled court appearance Friday afternoon, a San Joaquin County Superior Court judge ruled that a clerk had inadvertently given Herzog an extra 152 days of credit. State prison officials then said Herzog’s release date has been pushed back.
The former Linden resident’s imminent release has sparked a public outcry from victims and citizens, with Sheriff Steve Moore and Assemblywoman Cathleen Galgiani getting involved Thursday. They asked the public to voice concerns, and asked Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to see if there were any technical reasons Herzog might not be paroled to San Joaquin County.
“The last thing you want is to have (Herzog) out grocery shopping and he runs into one of his victims. We can’t have that,” Galgiani said Friday, adding that she’s going to continue working to see that Herzog is paroled elsewhere.
Two other county sheriffs successfully lobbied against having the 44-year-old man paroled near them. Virtually nobody wants Herzog living near them, especially since he was once convicted of four murders until an appellate court threw out most of the case, ruling that investigators had coerced Herzog while questioning him.
“The court decision gutted our case against Loren Herzog,” said Deputy District Attorney Thomas Testa, who prosecuted Herzog. “We re-evaluated the case, laid it all out, talked to the family.”
Herzog ultimately pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter in the 1998 death of Clements resident Cyndi Vanderheiden, and accessory to three other murders for which his childhood friend, Wesley Shermantine, was sent to death row.
Now Herzog has served his sentence and, until Friday afternoon’s court decision, was scheduled to be released from a Southern California prison on Sunday. His prison sentence is to be followed by three years of parole, and parole officials have since been trying to find a place for him to live.
Under a state law that gives certain rights to victims, their family members and witnesses, the Vanderheiden family has requested that Herzog be kept at least 35 miles away from them. They live in Clements, so parts of southern San Joaquin County, including Tracy, would be outside that 35-mile radius.
This week, however, four other victims and witnesses also filed such requests, said Luis Patino, spokesman for the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. At least one of those requests has been investigated and approved, but Patino did not know Friday where that person lives, or if it will affect Herzog’s parole location.
Testa, the prosecutor, said the requests came from Riverbank, Stockton and from someone who lives near Tracy, which was the most likely place where Herzog would be paroled.
“I don’t know how he can be placed anywhere in the county,” Testa said.
Prison officials now have more time to figure out where Herzog can go.
Whether Herzog must serve the full 152 days is yet to be determined, Patino said. That number relates to time Herzog was given for good behavior while in the county jail — something to which all inmates are entitled.
The Nov. 2004 sentencing transcript shows that Judge F. Clark Sueyres issued the sentence and properly added 152 days to the time Herzog had already served. But then a clerk, in finalizing an order to be sent to prison officials, added another 152 days to the total time.
On Friday, Sueyres amended the sentence and said in court that it’s not the first time such errors have happened, Testa said.