No parole for Samuel Ayala, Willie Profit or James Walls, murderers of Bonnie Burnham Minter and Sheila Valtz Watson.
We oppose parole for these three criminals and repeat offenders who, on March 2, 1977, violently raped and murdered Bonnie Minter and Sheila Watson. The New York State Board of Parole will conduct hearings starting in the second week of January 2014.
Please join us in taking a stand in Bonnie's and Sheila's names and also on behalf of their communities by petitioning the New York State Board of Parole to deny these inmates early release of their sentences.
The Ripple Effect is a petition gathering campaign against the parole of Samuel Ayala, Willie Profit and James Walls while simultaneously becoming a space for respectful dialogue. By enabling both the victims and the community to address each other and, jointly, to address the New York State Board of Parole, this forum can foster healing, hold our criminal justice system to a new standard of accountability and empower citizens affected by crime to participate in the parole process.
On Wednesday, March 2, 1977, at 5 p.m., in the northern Westchester town of South Salem, NY, James Walls, Willie Profit and Samuel Ayala invaded the home of Sheila Watson. Forcing their way in at gunpoint, Profit, Ayala and Walls proceeded to terrorize Sheila Watson, rob and ransack the Watson house, and to do so in the presence of Sheila's daughter, 3, and Maggie Minter, 3. Bonnie Minter arrived next in her station wagon to fetch her daughter and drop off Sheila's son, 6, who had been playing with her son, Jason Minter, 6; they arrived together and were immediately swept up in the attack. The two women and four children were herded into the Watson’s master bedroom on the second floor. Downstairs, James Walls slashed the tires of the Minter’s and the Watson’s station-wagons with a carving knife he had grabbed from the kitchen, then filled the van with the haul from the house. Upstairs, Profit, pointing a .22 caliber Rohm revolver, and Ayala, a .38 caliber Iver Johnson revolver, led Sheila and Bonnie off, against the protest of their children, into an adjoining bedroom. There they raped the women and then shot them multiple times in their backs and in the back of their heads, cackling about it as they passed out of the room and past the children. As soon as the men left, the children searched for their mothers, finding their lifeless bodies face-down.
The Hon. Richard J. Daronco, stated:
"Two innocent women’s lives were cruelly and wantonly taken by the Defendants in this case. All three Defendants share in the guilt in that none of them tried to stop or in any way curtail the activities of the others. The brutality shown was incredible. These were acts of terror, not only against these two unarmed, defenseless, helpless women, but at times in the presence of four very young children. These were acts of prolonged and deliberate violence. Two lives have been taken and, in addition, four young lives have been permanently, emotionally scarred, in addition to the husbands and fathers who have been severely traumatized. And so, we must consider the lost lives, the damaged lives, the fear, the community terror, the brutal rape, the cold blooded murders, in passing out an appropriate sentence. The memory of Sheila Watson and Bonnie Minter, children left motherless, the grieving husbands and families, the community and, most of all, justice, cries out for the maximum possible sentence allowable under the law of the State of New York. My only regret is that there is not a more severe sentence allowable which I might impose because I, without hesitation, would do so. I firmly believe that the present maximum sentence allowable in New York State is inadequate to mete out a proper punishment to fit the ghastly crimes committed by the Defendants in this case. Perhaps the New York State Legislature should look into the facts of this case in reviewing the present law on sentencing. God fearing, law abiding citizens everywhere demand a change, and I fear what could occur unless violent crime is dealt with swiftly and more appropriately."
A Note on the Sentence “Twenty-five Years to Life”
Although Profit, Ayala and Walls all received life sentences, a life sentence means, here, to serve a mandatory term of twenty-five years. After having completed that term, each is eligible to appear before the Parole Board and petition for release. The Parole Board has discretionary power to deny parole.
About The Ripple Effect
When a stone hits the middle of a pond, the impact spreads ripples across the surface. In a similar way, when a person commits a heinous crime, the impact rips apart lives and families, shoots through communities, and leaves wounds that last a lifetime.
As analogy and image, the ripple effect conveys the complex and persistent aftermath of such violence, in contrast to the sole emphasis on immediate victims, or the time and place of occurrence. Those features are just the beginning of the story – and the crime.
Although no one would equate this atrocity’s impact on the community to its impact on the victims, their reactions to what happened often bear resemblance as shock, horror, outrage and sadness yield to speechlessness, isolation, powerlessness and apathy.
There is a tacit assumption, moreover, that only victims have the right to speak out. In the case of parole hearings, however, the public has as much stake as victims regarding whether perpetrators of such crimes are released.
The Ripple Effect petition provides a chance for the families, friends and various communities of which these two young women were a part to share their memories and feelings about Bonnie and Sheila and about what happened to them, their families and to others as well. This forum also provides a chance to address the New York State Board of Parole -- to advcate to deny parole to these three men -- Willie Profit, Samuel Ayala and James Walls -- who are serving life sentences for their heinous crimes.
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