Sacto 9-1-1
March 4, 2010
Sacramento child killer among inmates up for parole hearings

By Bee Staff

A man who murdered his 1-year-old son in 1996 and a woman who killed a man in 1988 who she suspected of being a child molester are among the Sacramento area convicts who are up for parole hearings early in March.

According to the Board of Parole Hearings, a division of the State Corrections and Rehabilitation Department, the following hearings are scheduled for these convicts who are serving life sentences:

-March 8, Robert Ramirez Vela Jr., 34, Avenal State Prison.

A Sacramento Superior Court judge sentenced Vela on July 18, 1997, to 15-years-to-life in prison for the murder of his 1-year-old son, Daniel Vergos, who died of a massive skull fracture, The Bee reported.

An autopsy revealed that the victim had toxic levels of prescription drugs in his blood system, according to court documents. The drugs, which included codeine, were of such high doses that they alone would have killed him, said Deputy District Attorney Robin Shakely.

During the trial, Vela said he accidentally bumped his son's head against a wall when he was rocking the boy. Prosecution evidence showed the child's head injuries were so severe they were equivalent to a fall from a building several stories high.

-March 10, Frederick Brinkley, 47, Avenal State Prison.

A Sacramento Superior Court judge sentenced Brinkley to life in prison in November 1983 for a nine-day kidnapping and robbery spree in 1982.

Brinkley and a second person kidnapped three persons and robbed four others in separate crimes that took place in parking lots.

One victim was bound, gagged and left in the trunk of an abandoned car. She was able to free herself and pick the lock with her fingernails.

-March 10, Joy Celeste Pense, 43, California Institution for Women.

A Sacramento Superior Court judge sentenced Pense of Martinez in December 1989 to 27-years-to life in prison for killing a man because she believed he had molested the 3-year-old daughter of a friend, The Bee reported.

Pense was convicted of the Nov. 12, 1988, gunshot slaying of Tracy James Helling, 19, of Concord.

According to trial testimony, Pense lured Helling to a remote area of the Delta in Sacramento County with a promise she could get him some good drugs, then produced a gun and shot Helling several times in the torso and head, including one fatal round to the heart.

After leaving Helling's lifeless body on the shoulder of a road in the Sandy Beach area, Pense returned to Martinez and told the mother of the molestation victim that she had killed Helling. "Boom, I shot him in the head and in the gut," the mother quoted Pense.

The mother explained to the jury that she had learned from her daughter in May 1989 that Helling had been playing a "secret game" with her 3-year-old daughter and had attempted unsuccessfully to get the Contra Costa County authorities to prosecute him on child-molestation charges.

Pense was the child's baby sitter and shared in the mother's frustration with the criminal justice system, she testified.

March 11, George Edward Mixon, California State Prison, Los Angeles County.

No background information was available.

If you want to give your opinion of an inmate's suitability for parole, you may mail a letter to:

Martin Hoshino, executive director

Board of Parole Hearings

1515 K Street

Sacramento, CA 95811

For more information on the Board of Parole Hearings, go to:

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