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DA, Tracy police fight against the parole of man convicted of child torture

<i>SAN JOAQUIN POLICE/KCRA</i><br/>Anthony Waiters who was convicted for the torture and imprisonment of a teenage boy in Tracy
Anthony Waiters who was convicted for the torture and imprisonment of a teenage boy in Tracy

By Lysée Mitri

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    SAN JOAQUIN COUNTY, California (KCRA) — A man convicted for the torture and imprisonment of a teenage boy in Tracy could soon be released after serving just a fraction of his life sentence.

Anthony Waiters was granted parole in March, but the decision is not final and the San Joaquin District Attorney’s Office, which initially prosecuted the criminal case against him, is now fighting to keep him behind bars.

“This is not a person who should be granted parole,” said San Joaquin County District Attorney Tori Verber Salazar.

Waiters, 43, was a youth football coach before he was sentenced to life in prison in 2011 for holding a teen captive and torturing him.

“He routinely tortured with knives, a baseball bat, corrosive substances and frequently beat this child,” Verber Salazar said.

Surveillance video from December 2008 showed 16-year-old Kyle Ramirez after his escape. He was in shackles, begging for help at a gym after more than a year in captivity in a nearby Tracy home.

He used a trampoline to jump over a wall in the backyard of the house to get away.

Waiters was among four people arrested and eventually convicted in the case.

“Mr. Waiters was given an 11-year determinate sentence to be served before a life sentence,” Deputy District Attorney Angela Hayes said.

That meant that after serving at least 11 years behind bars, Waiters would be eligible for parole. He had a parole hearing in March.

“I did not think I would have to beg the parole board at the first parole hearing of his legal eligibility,” Hayes said. “Yes, Mr. Waiters was legally eligible for parole but I did not think I would have to plead with the stewards of public safety, the last line of defense between violent prisoners and their unsuspecting society to which they will be released, to do the right thing.”

Waiters testified before the parole board, admitting to his crimes and saying that he was disgusted and ashamed.

“It’s a very, very callous and heinous crime, sir. Um, I had bad coping mechanisms. I didn’t — I sought to be accepted by my neighbor, Mr. Schumacher. I abused alcohol and had unresolved griefs, sir, and there is no excuse for that,” Waiters said, according to a board of parole hearing transcript.

Waiters referred to Michael Schumacher, his next-door neighbor and drinking buddy. Schumacher and his wife, Kelly Lau, along with the teen victim’s guardian, Caren Ramirez, were also convicted in connection with the torture case. The three were living together in the Tracy home where 16-year-old Ramirez was chained to a fireplace.

In the parole hearing, Waiters discussed his father dying when he was 16 years old. He said he became depressed and started drinking at 18 years old. He also spoke of being bullied as a child because of a stutter.

The Parole Board also took into consideration Waiters’ minor prior criminal history and his participation in improvement programs in prison, like anger management, before ultimately finding that he did not “pose an unreasonable risk to public safety” and that he is “suitable for parole.”

In response, the district attorney wrote an opposition letter to Gov. Gavin Newsom, asking him to urge the board to review its decision.

The governor signed off on another hearing for the board to reconsider. In his decision, the governor wrote in part:

“I acknowledge that Mr. Waiters has made efforts to improve himself in prison. He has participated in self-help programming, including anger management and a batterer’s intervention program. Mr. Waiters earned four vocations and was praised by correctional staff for his positive attitude. I commend Mr. Waiters for taking these positive steps. However, I find that this case warrants the consideration of the full Board of Parole Hearings to determine whether Mr. Waiters can be safely released at this time. I ask the Board to determine whether Mr. Waiters has sufficiently mitigated his risk factor for violent conduct. Mr. Waiters has been incarcerated for 13 years but continues to demonstrate profound deficits in insight into what led him to participate in an astonishingly inhumane crime, the ongoing torture of a vulnerable young victim.”

That hearing is scheduled to take place at 9 a.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 16 at 1515 K St., Suite 550 in Sacramento, and the district attorney’s office is urging the public to attend in person or virtually.

“Inmate Waiters will tentatively be released as early as August 19, 2022, unless we take action. Unless we mobilize as a community. Unless we all stand together and fight for Kyle and fight for our community,” Verber Salazar said.

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