Hearing Delayed For Jilly's Murderer
Board delays parole hearing for convicted murderer
By Christine Mahr
The Desert Sun
April 4th, 2002
A man serving a 15-years-to-life sentence for second- degree murder in the death of a long-time friend of Frank Sinatra will have to wait to make his case for parole.
The state Board of Prison Terms postponed its scheduled parole hearing for Jeffrey Perrotte without setting another date.
The hearing was set for Wednesday at Chuckawalla Valley State Prison near Blythe, where Perrotte is serving his sentence.
Hurdles: Miscommunication between prison and board officials about the time of the hearing was cited, Deputy District Attorney Sean Crandell said. The board also hasn’t had a chance to review a recent psychological evaluation of Perrotte, Crandell added.
Perrotte’s conviction in July 1993 resulted from a fiery car crash that killed Sinatra’s friend, Jilly Rizzo, in May 1992. Perrotte’s car slammed into Rizzo’s on Gerald Ford Drive in Rancho Mirage.
Prosecutors charged Perrotte with second-degree murder because he was driving under the influence of alcohol at the time of the accident and had a history of drunken-driving convictions.
Although no new parole hearing date was set, it probably will occur in the next few months, Crandell said.
The district attorney’s office is opposing Perrotte’s release.
"The primary reason is we feel he’s a danger to the community," Crandell said. He cited Perrotte’s past convictions and drunken-driving history, along with his actions following the accident.
Trial evidence showed Perrotte left the scene of the accident instead of trying to help Rizzo, who was trapped in the car when it exploded and burned. Perrotte testified that he tried unsuccessfully to get to Rizzo and then left to call 911.
Family’s views: Rizzo’s family, except for an adopted daughter, opposes his release from prison. "It was a 15-years-to-life sentence, and he hasn’t even done nine years," said Abby Rizzo, Jilly Rizzo’s daughter. "And he’s never apologized to us for what he did -- not openly and not privately."
The board has received numerous communications in support of and in opposition to Perrotte’s release.
Some of the supportive letters, including two from correctional officers, talked about how Perrotte has turned his life around in prison.
He has earned college degrees, taught prisoners to read and written articles distributed by Alcoholics Anonymous to help people with addictions turn their lives around, letters said.
Abby Rizzo said that doesn’t mean much to her. "They’re not serving alcohol in prison, and he doesn’t have keys to a car there," she said.
Frank Sinatra’s daughter, Nancy, and a deputy attorney general have said they oppose Perrotte’s release.
"They feel he hasn’t been punished enough for what he did," Crandell said.
Christine Mahr covers courts and higher education for The
Desert Sun. She can be reached at (760) 775-4207 or via
e-mail at Christine.Mahr@thedesertsun.com.
©2002 The Desert Sun.
Posted by: Nancy | Apr 4, 2002 12:01 PM | Comments(12)