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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Killer of GU law student denied early release


OLYMPIA – A self-described gang “wannabe” who killed a Gonzaga Law School student during a 1992 pizza delivery robbery in Spokane does not deserve early release from prison at this time, a state board ruled Monday.

Daniel Delgado has received too many infractions during his time in prison, including a recent one that was gang-related, the Indeterminate Sentencing Review Board said. The board turned down Delgado’s request for release under a new law that allows inmates convicted as juveniles to be released early from some prison terms. He can ask again in a year.

Delgado was 17 when he killed Mike Maykowskyj, who was delivering pizza during a summer off from GU Law School. Delgado and two accomplices ordered a pizza to be delivered to a darkened house in the West Central neighborhood with a plan to rob the deliveryman for beer money. Delgado ambushed Maykowskyj when he got out of the car and shot him with a stolen sawed-off shotgun.

“The fact that he’s not getting out is fantastic,” Marne Maykowskyj Nordean, the victim’s sister, said Monday. But the family now has to live with what could be yearly appeals from Delgado for early release.

“It’s like sentencing us,” she said. “How do we get on with our lives?”

Maykowskyj’s family, including his daughter who was 2 years old at the time of the murder, urged the board in April not to release him. Delgado avoided the death penalty and life in prison without parole when he accepted a plea bargain that resulted in a 37 1/2-year sentence, they said, and he should serve his time.

“I beg you not to take away the only justice we have,” daughter Ashley Cavuto said in a statement that was read by Nordean, her aunt, when the younger woman broke down in tears and couldn’t continue.

In his hearing last month at the Washington Correctional Center in Shelton, Delgado admitted that the robbery plan was his, hatched when he was a teen trying to make a name for himself as a gangbang-er. He joined a prison gang, the Surenos, and compiled a record of 35 serious infractions. He told the board he’s a changed man and his last infraction, in 2011, was a result of a fistfight that stemmed from leaving the gang.

His recent problems, which are gang-related, are among the reasons the board refused to release Delgado, saying it was “more likely than not” he’d commit new crimes.

Under the law, which the Legislature approved in 2014, the board is directed to release anyone convicted of a homicide as a juvenile who has served at least 20 years of a sentence unless the members believe the inmate is likely to commit more crimes. The law was a response to a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that said persons convicted of murder as juveniles cannot serve life without parole without their sentences being reviewed later to determine if age and other circumstances are factors that would warrant their release.

But David Freeburg, an attorney for the Maykowskyj family, said the Washington law goes further than the court decision by setting up a system that presumes juveniles sentenced to more than 20 years should be released unless the board believes they would commit more crimes.

To date the board has granted three petitions for release from inmates who were convicted of homicides committed when they were juveniles, and denied four, including Delgado. All four will be eligible to reapply next year, a system that Nordean called “outrageous.”