California Gov. Gavin Newsom Reverses Parole for Convicted Killer of Oglala Woman
February 2, 2021
SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. - On Friday, Jan. 29, California Gov. Gavin Newsom reversed parole for Rodney Patrick McNeal, distinguishing that his ex-wife - Debra Black Crow - occurred in the context of a national epidemic of violence against Native women. McNeal was convicted of two counts of 15-years-to-life for second degree murder on May 3, 2000. His victim was a member of the Oglala Sioux Tribe and was nearly seven months pregnant at the time she was stabbed and strangled to death by her former husband, who was a probation officer at the time.
When Gov. Newsom previously approved McNeal's request for clemency, he cited McNeal has "committed himself to his self-improvement" while incarcerated.
Native News Online reported on Nov. 21, 2020, that Gov. Newsom granted McNeal a commutation earlier in 2020, which made him eligible for parole seven years earlier than his original sentence of 30 years. He was later granted parole on a split decision and was scheduled to be released on Nov. 13, 2020. However, due to unforeseen circumstances, McNeal remained in prison and Debra's family, led by her daughter Shantel Haynes, advocated for him to stay in prison.