By Sarah Sikander & Caleb Lunetta
Dealio Lockhart – who was convicted and sentenced to state prison for more than two decades after pleading guilty to the crash that killed two Valencia teenagers in February 2016 – could be released on parole imminently.
His release is the outcome of recent changes in the law, through Proposition 57 (The Public Safety and Rehabilitation Act of 2016).
The law now requires the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to change how individuals convicted of a nonviolent felony are considered for early parole.
Lockhart was the cause of the February 2016 crash that killed Valencia teenagers Brian Lewandowski, 18, and Michelle Littlefield, 19. The deceased were students of College of the Canyons, and worked at Six Flags Magic Mountain. They were returning from a trip to Disneyland with two others.
Scott Treadway, 52, a UPS truck driver from Mira Loma, was also killed, after Lockhart’s car flew into the truck while racing another vehicle on Interstate 5 in Commerce, and another man in the crash remains in a coma still to this day, according to Willy Littlefield, father of Michelle Littlefield.
A deputy commissioner, working for the Board of Parole Hearings, began the administrative review, looking at documents to determine if Lockhart is eligible for his release from the state prison, on Friday, only one day removed from the six-year anniversary of the crash.
“I can deal with my daughter’s death,” Littlefield told The Signal on Monday, “but I don’t think it’s going to be fair, that (Lockhart), who got 22 years, is going to be out dancing on the street while (the other man) is still in a coma.”
Littlefield said that the way he and his family members were first informed that Lockhart was set to be considered for parole as a result of Prop. 57 was through the family of the man in a coma being the only one to receive the first notice that he would be given an opportunity before the parole board.
The announcement has been met with the ire of the family members of some of the victims, Littlefield and his niece, Candace Zipperer, told The Signal on Monday. Littlefield’s family was particularly upset at the classification of the crime being considered “non-violent” in the eyes of Prop. 57.
“I would say it is as as violent as it could possibly get,” said Zipperer. “I think anybody going 127 mph, two and a half seconds before an accident, for 11 miles, is as reckless and violent as you can possibly get.”
“I hate to use the analogy of point a gun into a crowd and shooting, but it is the closest example that I could possibly give,” Zipperer added.
Zipperer said that while she does believe this to have been an instance of murder, she also expressed her belief in due process — a process that originally gave Lockhart 22 years in prison.
“Dealio Lockhart perhaps is sorry for his violent crime, (but) this does not negate the fact that on this Earth he must serve his justified prison sentence for the full duration of 22 years,” Zipperer said in a letter to L.A. County District Attorney Goerge Gascón, and the state’s Board of Parole Hearings. “He answers to us the, People and God the Almighty.”
“Do I believe he should be locked up for the rest of his life? No, because of the law and I take my feelings out of it,” said Zipperer. “But I believe that if investigators put in this amount of time into helping getting a conviction, and the entire judicial system does its job; then to have somebody come in and say, ‘Hey, we’re not going to we’re not going to uphold this,’ it sends the wrong message to the amount of street racers” that are in California.
Families of the victims affected by the crash, and by Lockhart’s release, have the right to provide information to the board to express their concerns – including personal and family safety, as well as public safety.
The decision to whether Lockhart will receive parole under the stipulations of Prop. 57 has not been decided as of Monday.