Family Turns to Marsy's Law in Torture Case Parole Hearing

California authorities have denied parole to a man who brutally tortured, disfigured and left disabled his former girlfriend in 2001. Gregory Patrick Beck, who is serving a sentence in Corcoran state prison for inflicting grave injury, was denied parole for 10 years. Sherry Carlton was 32 years old when Beck soaked her with lighter fluid and intentionally set her on fire. She lives today in a care home in Lake County, is blind and cannot speak, walk or otherwise care for herself without assistance. Her stepmother, Michelle Carlton, credited Marsy's Law with enabling the parole board to impose a long parole hearing denial. "We can finally breathe again," Michelle Carlton said.

Before passage of the California Constitutional Amendment in 2008, the maximum denial for a parole hearing was three years in murder cases and two years in all others. Now parole can be denied for up to seven, 10, and even 15 years in murder cases. The two-member panel of the California Board of Parole Hearing found that Beck was unsuitable for release because of his failure to be rehabilitated, combined with the highly callous, vicious and atrocious nature of the attack. Nearly100 letters were presented by community members outraged by the prospect of Beck's parole. Also presented were photos of Sherry Carlton prior to the attack, showing a strikingly beautiful blonde woman.

Dr. Nicholas was honored to have been contacted recently by the parents of Sherry Carlton, who wanted to express their thanks for Marsy's Law. We are gratified that Marsy's Law made a difference but its contribution pales when compared to the Carlton's strength of character and will. We humbly share their note to Dr. Nicholas...


Dear Dr. Nicholas,

sherry carlton before assault by gregory patrick beck, marsy's law.Sherry Carlton, before her brutal assault by Gregory Patrick Beck

I want to thank you for all the work you have done to make Marsy's Law a reality.  I cannot tell you how much it means to us and the impact it has had on our lives.  Ten years ago our daughter was viciously attacked by her fiance.  He set her on fire and watched her burn.  Sherry survived only to live life blind, paralyzed, burned and brain injured in a nursing home.  Although the man responsible for this horrific crime when to prison he comes up for parole every two years.  Up until yesterday we have lived our lives trying to keep him in prison, traveling to every parole hearing to plead our cause and then living in fear that he will be released and return to finish Sherry off.

Yesterday my husband made the six hour trip to the prison for yet another parole hearing.  I am sure you understand the dark cloud that hangs over a family every time you have to confront the person who destroyed your loved one's life.  After the hearing my husband phoned me, ecstatic, saying something about ten years and Marsy's Law.  Then he explained to me that the parole board was able to determine it would be ten years until this man could even request another parole hearing (barring any change in the circumstances of the case).  I cannot put into words how comforting it is to know that we (and our community) are safe.  I don't have to live in fear that I will see this man walking into the nursing home to confront our daughter or at my own door.  The parole board said he was one of the most callous individuals they had seen in the system, showing no remorse when confronted with the horrors of his crime.

Thank you, thank you , thank you.

My husband & I are both nurses and have seen many patients over the years suffering at the hands of criminals that should have remained behind bars.  We thank you not only on a personal level but as professionals as well.  Please let us know if there is any way we can help your cause to nationalize victims rights.

With sincere gratitude,
Michelle & Jeffrey Carlton