BARSTOW • John Salsbury, who shot and killed his neighbor and fired on police in December 2000, was denied early release from prison at a compassionate release hearing at the Barstow courthouse Friday morning.
Salsbury, 62, applied for release because he is dying of lung cancer. Judge Margaret Powers agreed that Salsbury may die in the next six months — one of two requirements for release on compassionate grounds — but said Salsbury still poses a threat to the public and should stay in prison.
Barstow police Cpl. Andrew Ellis fought tears as he gave a statement about the day Salsbury killed his Third Street neighbor, Ron Schraff, for knocking over his motorcycle and later opened fire on officers.
"He shot his neighbor point blank," said Ellis. "Then he picked up a 30-30 rifle and shot (Lt. Albert) Ramirez in the thigh and hit his artery. I saw him turn green in the hospital ... (Salsbury) did not show compassion for the police or the public."
Officer John Cordero also lost an eye when he was shot by Salsbury.
Supervising Deputy District Attorney Julie Peterson said that Salsbury deserves to die in prison.
"If he was upset enough to shoot his neighbor over a motorcycle, he could snap at a hospice worker," said Peterson. "He does not deserve compassionate release."
Salsbury did not appear at the hearing. Salsbury's public defender, Paul Henderson, said that he had only a short time to review the case but that Salsbury can walk only short distances and does not pose a threat to the public.
Judge Powers said that Salsbury assaulted another inmate while in prison and that she has not seen any record that Salsbury has received any treatment for mental illness while incarcerated. A jury found Salsbury sane while he shot his neighbor but insane when he fired on officers at Salsbury's trial in June of 2002. Salsbury was sentenced to 55 years to life in prison.
Ramirez said that he was happy with the judge's decision and Salsbury's continued confinement was "important for justice and the safety of the community."
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