A Carson City man will be released after being imprisoned for more than a decade in a 1998 hotel room beating death.
Rocky Boice Jr., 36, could be free as early as today after he appeared before the Nevada Pardons Board on Monday.
Boice was seeking eligibility for parole from the minimum 20-year sentence he received in 2002 in connection with the death of Sammy Resendiz, a founding member of the East Wood Tokers.
Instead, board members voted to commute his remaining sentence to time served, after several said the sentence was disproportionate to the crime.
Parole Board Chairwoman Connie Bisbee said Boice could be released within 24 hours of the hearing.
Boice was one of about a dozen people arrested in connection with the Aug. 23, 1998, killing of Resendiz, who was beaten to death in a North Carson Street motel room. He was 19 at the time.
Chief Justice Jim Hardesty pointed out that none of the other defendants, all of whom pleaded guilty in the case, was sentenced to more than five years prison and all were released on parole earlier than that.
“To me, this is the most disproportionate sentence I’ve seen,” he said. “In my view we should be commuting his sentence. What more do we need to do to satisfy justice.”
Hardesty said the evidence in the case shows that what Boice did was “go into the room, hits him with a stick and leaves.”
“Yet he ends up holding the bag,” Hardesty said.
He was joined by Justices Michael Douglas and Michael Cherry who said the board composed of the supreme court, attorney general and governor should commute him to time served and release him.
Federal Public Defender Lori Teicher said among those who think Boice received too harsh a sentence compared to the other defendants were the trial Judge Mike Griffin and prosecutor, then District Attorney Noel Waters who both wrote letters saying just that. Teicher also pointed to strong support from family and friends, 43 of whom signed up to attend the hearing and support his cause.
Justice Mark Gibbons said it was the first time in his 13 years on the high court and the board that he has seen letters urging leniency from both the prosecutor and judge in the case.
Cherry said since Bisbee told them Boice would almost certainly be released by them as soon as a hearing was held, Pardons Board members should just do it now. He also pointed out that Boice has already been paroled on the second degree murder count, that he is serving the deadly weapon enhancement.
The only “No” votes were by Attorney General Adam Laxalt who said Boice should go through the Parole Board and Justice Kris Pickering.
Before the vote, Gov. Brian Sandoval told Boice, “I’m putting a lot of trust in you that the criminal justice system isn’t going to see you again — I’m believing in you that you’re going to toe the line and take care of your daughter and not drink.”
For his part, Boice told the board that before the crime, his life was about “drinking and fighting.”
After the crime and with the birth of his daughter, now 14, he said he decided to completely clean up his life.
“I made the decision when she was born not to let her see me drunk,” he said. “And not to let her grow up the way I did.”
He said he will continue to stay clean and sober if and when released.
Prison officials said Boice has been an exemplary inmate with only one minor infraction in 13 years.
The beating happened after Resendiz, one of the founders of the Eastside Tokers, and other members of that gang reportedly got in a dispute with an American Indian girl, who went out and found Boice and other members of a group of American Indians calling themselves the Res Boys to go back and teach the Tokers a lesson.
Boice, who won credit from the Pardons Board for not trying to shift blame to other defendants, said everything just got out of control that night.