SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Utah) – After nearly 16-years in prison, Brookes Shumway will soon become a freeman.
Thursday, Utah’s Board of Pardons set May 24th for him to be released from prison.
In January, 2000 Shumway stabbed his friend Christopher Ray during a sleepover. The autopsy revealed Ray was stabbed 39 times.
After Shumway’s sentence was overturned, he pleaded guilty to manslaughter and was sentenced to one-to-15 years in prison.
“I went into a panic mode,” said the victim’s sister Jennifer Gundersen. “I almost feel like I’m reliving it all over again.”
Tuesday, Shumway came before a hearing officer for a rehearing. He previously had a hearing in 2007 but was denied parole.
“Every time I lie and try to deceive people I can, I know it causes more pain and suffering to Christopher’s family,” Shumway told the hearing officer.
During the hearing, he claimed he killed his friend because Ray made sexual advances.
Shumway: “He started making sexual advancements towards me
Hearing Officer: “What do you mean by that?
Shumway: “He tried to kiss me.”
Later, he told the hearing officer that it had happened at least four times during their friendship.
Ray’s sister who’s never spoken publicly before said Shumway keeps lying.
“I felt from the beginning it was pre-meditated,” said Gundersen . “In his own words he stood over him for 20 minutes.”
Tuesday, he also admitted bringing a duffle bag to the sleepover.
“In the bag was duct tape, knife, rope and like an army video on how to kill a person with a knife,” said Gundersen.
During Tuesday’s parole hearing, Shumway denied knowing anything about a video tape. He said the rope was to build a swing.
At trial, the evidence was not admitted because it was found later by a clean up crew. It angered Ray’s family. But a pair of bloody socks was also inside the duffle bag. It belonged to Shumway and prosecutors used it as evidence in their case against him.
Gundersen was at the home the morning Ray’s bloody body was discovred by their mother.
“I woke up to (sobs), I woke up to my mother screaming bloody murder,” she recalled.
Even after 16 years, she said she still can’t erase that morning from her mind.
“Brookes was sitting on the couch just swaying there swinging back and forth,” she said.
Gunderson was only 16-years old when this happened. She quit school, received counseling but after sixteen years is still haunted.
“It’s just so hard,” she said. “I get really tired of the nights sitting up crying thinking about it, when I know that this is not what he (Christopher) wants, not at all.”
She and her mother remain upset with the Board of Pardons. Tuesday Gundersen was prepared to speak against his release but was not allowed. Instead, her mother was the only one able to speak against his release.
The head of the Board of Pardons (BOP) explained it this way: “Normally only one family member is designated as the victim representative and testifies at the hearing. Other family members may submit written comments to the Board before the hearing.
According to Utah Administrative rule R671-203-3(C) Oral testimony at hearings will be limited to five minutes in length per victim or representative. If a family member testifies, testimony should be limited to one family representative from the marital family (i.e. spouse or children) and/or one family representative from the nuclear/extended family (i.e. parent, sibling or grandparent). Under exceptional or extraordinary circumstances a victim may formally petition the Board to request additional testimony.”
Gundersen said the time he’s served was not enough. But the Board of Pardons said Shumway has been a model prisoner, taken self-improvement courses and has a life plan once he’s released from prison.
The BOP also stated: The Sentencing Guideline for Mr. Shumway is 108 months or January 2009. The Board decided to parole Mr. Shumway on May 24, 2016 which is 88 months beyond
Meanwhile the family plans to hold a protest rally in the near future. More information about the vigil can befound in the Facebook they created “Justice for Chris” Community.