SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Utah) – Megann Hyde Gulrud is “rooting” for the release of the man who killed her sister.
In 1998, Steven Keomanivong killed Bethany Hyde during a drive by shooting. Hyde was not the intended target. Police said she was at the wrong place at the wrong time.
So was Gulrud. She was with Hyde that night.
“I was in the front seat and Bethany was in the back seat,” said Gulrud.
Keomanivong was sentenced to prison for her death. After serving nearly 17-years Keomanivong is up for parole. At last week’s parole hearing, he talked openly for the first time about that night.
“We were just driving around, looking for rival gang members,” he told the hearing officers. “I thought the car was our gang rival.
He said he couldn’t see who was inside the car. But he fired six shots.
“I was trying to shoot at the door (and) didn’t expect it to go through the door,” he said.
One of those bullets struck Hyde in the back and killed her.
Keomanivong never apologized to Hyde’s family even though her mother did during his 2001 sentencing.
“I have come to the conclusion that my life cannot go on unless I forgive you for what you did to my daughter,” she said to Keomanivong during the sentencing. “That doesn’t mean I have to forget.”
But 17-years later, Keomanivong who has spent half of his life beind prison bars finally offered an apology during his parole hearing.
“I’m sorry and for all the pain that I caused them and I know I can’t just say sorry for taking someone’s life because you can never say sorry for that,” Keomanivong said.
His own family was there to support him. But Hyde’s mother nor her sister were there. They have since moved out of state.
“If I could have bought a plane ticket I would have been there fighting for (his parole),” Guruld said. “I wanted him to be paroled.”
Guruld said read about Keomanivong’s parole hearing on News 4 Utah’s website.
“He sounded sincere,” Guruld said.
Keomanivong told the hearing officer that he was a changed man, never been in trouble while in prison, even avoiding his own gang. And he focused on getting an education. While in prison he earned a college degree.
“He made a mistake when he was 18-years old,” said Guruld. “It took me a long time to say that I can forgive him. Me forgiving him doesn’t change what happened that night.”
She recalled holding Bethany after she was shot. It’s a memory that haunted her for a long time.
“I get the PTSD and the flashbacks and the crazy things that come with it and I had to make choices,” she said. “I choose to live in the light.”
Bethany’s mother, Merlinda Bradshaw Pierce said she is deeply religious and relied on her LDS faith to carry her through the darkness. She too is hopeful that Keomanivong has changed and is ready for a new and productive life.
“We really hope that he’s going to do the right thing and make a better life for himself and not let his family down and not let us down for wanting this for him,” said Bradshaw Pierce. “We’re rooting for him to be the best he can when he gets out. We want him to have a good life.”
A week after Keomanivong’s hearing, the Utah Board of Pardons felt he had reformed and gave him a release date, May, 2019.