Monday, May 20, 2024

Stephanie Lazarus Faces Full Parole Board May 20, 2024


Sherri Rae Rasmussen,  in her home, Christmas, 1895.
Photo copyright the Rasmussen Family.

A Brief History
Sherri Rae Rasmussen was murdered in her home on February 24, 1986, one day after being married to John Ruetten for only three months. Her murder remained unsolved for over 23 years.

Newspaper headlines shocked the nation on June 5, 2009, when LAPD Detective Stephanie Lazarus was arrested for Sherri's murder. 

Lazarus went on trial January 30, 2012 and was convicted of first degree murder on March 8, 2012. She was sentenced to 27 years to life a little over a month later on May 11, 2012. Lazarus was sentenced under the guidelines that were in effect at the time of the murder. During her sentencing, sources told me that Lazarus could be up for her first parole hearing in as little as 14-15 years.

While Lazarus was serving her sentence, the California legislature passed laws that impact what the Parole Board can consider when determining an inmate's eligibility for parole, commonly known as the youthful offender statute. Lazarus, who was 25 years old and 10 months at the time of the murder, benefited from this statute.

First Parole Hearing

In November 2023, after serving a little more than 14 years in prison, Lazarus qualified for her first parole hearing under the youthful offender statute. There were two parole board members at that hearing and Lazarus was recommended for parole. Then the decision went to the Governer, Gavin Newsom.

Many of Sheri's family and friends wrote to the Governor Newsom asking him to deny Lazarus parole. Most notably, LAPD Chief Michael Moore wrote a letter recommending Lazarus be denied parole. Here is the letter Chief Moore wrote on January 16, 2024:

In early April this year, Governor Newsom referred the parole decision back to the Parole Board for a full "En Banc" review.  That full board review hearing is being held today in Sacramento. It is open to the public. You can find information about the hearing at THIS LINK.