Jennifer K. Morita Bee Staff Writer February 21, 2001, Wednesday Metro Final Edition Copyright 2001 McClatchy Newspapers, Inc. Sacramento Bee February 21, 2001, Wednesday Metro Final Edition
(LINCOLN, Calif.) -- Residents proved they have long memories when more than 3,500 signed a petition to keep the man convicted of killing a police officer nearly 30 years ago in prison.
"I remember it very well," said Paul Shelgren, a Lincoln police lieutenant who was 10 years old at the time of the shooting. "This community was just heartbroken about it. Even newcomers are aware of what happened. It's still fresh in everybody's minds."
James L. Porter is serving a life sentence at Mule Creek State Prison in Ione after being convicted of the 1971 killing of Lincoln Police Officer Leslie Paul Schellbach.
Porter, who could not be reached for comment, is scheduled to go before the Parole Board on March 14.
But the Lincoln Police Department circulates petitions among homes and businesses in town each time Porter is eligible for parole.
"The Police Department has been circulating the petitions for several years, anytime any one of them are up for parole," Shelgren said. "The chief attends the hearings and we write letters."
In 1971, the 31-year-old Porter, who had recently escaped from Utah State Prison, robbed the East Avenue Market in Lincoln at gunpoint along with fellow escapee Dale Floyd Denning and Richard G. Moreno.
A high-speed chase ensued and the three suspects opened fire on police officers, killing the 31-year-old Schellbach and wounding Sgt. Robert Barroso, 35.
"We were all a family, and you have to understand that at the time the worst kinds of crimes we had were theft or maybe family disturbances," said Barroso, who retired from the department in 1982. "This crime impacted the community tremendously. We need to keep this man in prison."
Charles Wing, owner of Lincoln Travel and Cruise, leaves the petition at the front counter for customers to sign.
"We've done it every time they've come up for parole," Wing said. "We think it's important for the community not to forget."
Porter, who has been eligible for parole several times, was denied by the State Board of Prison Terms in May 1981 because he had been an escapee from Utah at the time of the shooting, had a lengthy criminal history and was involved in at least six serious disciplinary offenses while an inmate at Folsom State Prison.