Officer Archie Buggs

Governer Reverses Parole Approval for Killer of San Diego Police Officer Archie Buggs

Jesus Cecena has now been paroled four times; the grants issued by the parole board were reversed three times by former Gov. Jerry Brown, and now by Gavin Newsom as well

Cecena (left) and Buggs

A San Diego man who shot and killed a San Diego police officer Archie Buggs in 1978 will remain behind bars despite being granted parole suitability in June for the fourth time, according to San Diego's district attorney.

Jesus Cecena, 59, was a 17-year-old gang member when he killed Buggs in November 1978 in the Skyline neighborhood of San Diego. Cecena shot Buggs four times during a traffic stop. 

Cecena's three-hour hearing in June took place in Fresno, at Valley State Prison, and virtually via Skype, according to San Diego District Attorney Summer Stephan's office, which issued a news release at that time that also stated that the State Parole Board deliberated its decision for approximately 30 minutes.

“We are deeply disappointed that the killer of one of San Diego’s finest officers was granted parole,” Stephan was quoted in the release. “This crime impacted the entire San Diego community and caused great pain for the family of Officer Archie Buggs.”

However, California Gov. Gavin Newsom reviewed the State Parole Board's ruling and reversed the decision on Monday, according to Stephan's office.

"District Attorney investigators Anthony Pellegrino and Dave Collins ... reinvestigated the gang-motivation element of the murder, which was an important factor for Governor Newsom," Stephan's office said in a statement sent out to the media on Tuesday.

Cecena has said in the past that he shot Buggs because he feared abandonment by his father if he were to receive a traffic ticket and was caught with alcohol. Stephen's office said in the release on Tuesday that "Cecena has been clinging to an implausible account that he murdered Officer Buggs to avoid getting in trouble with his father, but the governor noted the real reason for the killing was to move up in his criminal street gang."

Cecena was found guilty of first-degree murder and sentenced to life with no parole, but his term was later modified to a seven-years-to-life sentence, giving him a chance at parole under a state law that allows youth offenders serving life sentences to petition for release once they have served at least 15 years.

Parole was also granted to Cecena in 2014, 2016 and 2017, but former Gov. Jerry Brown reversed each of those decisions, at one time citing Cecena's "resistance to explore the motivations behind the killing."

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