Tag Archive for: Lifer Hearing Unit

‘Del Mar Rapist’ Denied Parole

San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan said today that a defendant who admitted breaking into Del Mar homes and sexually assaulting women in the mid-1990s lost his bid for parole at an emotional hearing held this morning. After the hearing to weigh his suitability for release, parole officials denied 49-year-old Robert Dean Rustad’s request, and said he should not be up for consideration again for another three years.

“Two of this rapist’s victims were at the hearing today and justice was served because the panel sees this inmate is still not being truthful about his true motivation for these crimes,” DA Stephan said. “Our DA Lifer Unit handles these hearings, led by Deputy DA John Cross. The Unit does an excellent job of representing victims and working to protect the safety of our communities when violent criminals are being considered for release.”

Rustad, also known as the Del Mar Rapist, brutally raped seven women from 1992 through 1996 before he was finally caught. Most were threatened at knifepoint and tied up. One was badly beaten. He was between the ages of 19 and 22 when he committed the crimes. Rustad pleaded guilty to 36 criminal counts, including rape. He was sentenced in 1997 to a 326 years-to-life prison term but came up for parole early through the state’s Youth parole law, which considers a person’s age at the time of their offense. His last parole hearing was in 2020 when he was denied release for five years, however he came up early for this latest parole hearing by filing a Petition to Advance his hearing that was granted.

Rustad has claimed his actions were driven by a desire for a girlfriend-type relationship. “His motivation was clearly sadistic and his inability to accept that continues to make him a serious threat to society,” said DA Stephan.

The DA’s Lifer Hearing Unit has two main goals: to ensure that dangerous prisoners with life sentences are not released carelessly or improvidently, and to ensure that crime victims and their families are given an opportunity to participate in the parole hearing process and have their voices heard.

When a defendant is given a life sentence, the Lifer Hearing Unit processes the case to ensure that it is ready for future parole suitability hearings. This involves preserving victims’ statements and documenting the gravity of the crimes to ensure the offenders serve sentences proportional to their crimes.

Last year, there were 664 lifer parole hearings scheduled in San Diego County. Of those, 96 inmates received parole grants from the California Board of Parole Hearings. The remainder of the hearings –568– resulted in denials, postponements, or stipulations to a denial of parole.

In addition, the Lifer Hearing Unit tracks court activity on lifer cases and assists the Attorney General’s Office in opposing writs of habeas corpus seeking release. The Lifer Hearing Unit also submits amicus briefs on behalf of the California District Attorneys Association on important cases. The Lifer Hearing Unit is the state-wide leader in lifer matters and San Diego County serves as the training office for other prosecutors who seek to understand the complex laws governing parole hearings.

Rapist Eligible for Elder Parole is Denied Release

San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan announced today that convicted rapist Randal Gers, 60, has been denied parole by the Board of Parole Hearings. In 1995, Gers kidnapped two different women on two separate occasions. He held them both for hours, bound them, and repeatedly raped, sodomized, and sexually assaulted them. The inmate used a knife to gain control of the women, tied a rope or belt around their neck to control them, and even left one victim tied to a tree in a remote area overnight before returning to sexually assault her again. This defendant had a prior conviction for sexually assaulting a 12-year-old and bashing her over the head.

The defendant received a 567 years-to-life sentence for his crimes, which was the longest sentence ever handed down in San Diego County at the time. His eligible parole date was originally November 2378, however the California Legislature changed the law in 2021 to lower the age of qualification for the Elderly Parole Program to inmates 50 years old or older who have served at least 20 years of continuous incarceration. But for the change in the law, Gers would have never received a parole hearing.

The District Attorney’s Office Lifer Unit, led by Deputy District Attorney John Cross, worked diligently to oppose the release of this dangerous inmate, and located the two kidnap and rape victims to alert them to the parole hearing, as well as the change in the law that made parole a possibility for their rapist. The two courageous victims appeared in front of the Parole Board on Tuesday, giving powerful impact statements and the District Attorney’s Office vigorously argued against the inmate’s release. Ultimately, the Board denied Gers parole for five years.

“These were extremely brutal and horrific crimes deserving of the life in prison sentence the defendant received,” said DA Stephan. “It is hard to believe that a sexual predator with multiple victims is eligible for release under this new law, causing additional trauma to victims who had to overcome the damage of the violent crimes they endured and thought their tormenter had received a final justice and sentence. Instead, these and many more victims are being pulled back into the criminal justice system time and time again. Our prosecutors will never abandon our victims and we will stand with them at these parole hearings. We won this battle, but in five years, we will have to fight alongside them again. And we will.”

“The denial of parole is an excellent example of the work the DA’s Lifer Hearing Unit does to represent the voice of the crime victims. We’re increasingly seeing inmates being released under the Elderly Parole Program and when the facts and the law support us as in this case, we fight against these unsafe and unjust releases,” Stephan said.

In arguing against parole, Deputy District Attorney John Cross detailed Gers’ disturbing and violent crimes. He also told the Board that Gers had no understanding why he committed the brutal rapes and showed no remorse. The inmate has not completed any self-help programming while in prison and offered excuses as to why he had not.

The DA’s Lifer Hearing Unit was formed in 1995 to ensure that victims of violent crime are given a chance to be heard at these proceedings, and to help prevent inappropriate grants of parole. Since the passage of the elder parole law and many other laws that allow early release of violent offenders, the Unit’s workload has dramatically increased. The Unit prepares for about 50 parole hearings each month, approximately 600 a year, and handles about 300 full hearings.