NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The owner of an Inwood restaurant is fighting to keep one of his mother’s killers behind bars nearly four decades after her murder.
Jason Minter is the owner of Indian Road Café at 600 W. 218th St. He was just 6 years old when his mother, Bonnie Minter, and her friend, Sheila Watson, were raped and murdered during a violent home invasion in northern Westchester on March 2, 1977.
As CBS 2’s Lou Young reported, someone who saw Minter in the popular café would have no inkling of the heavy burden he carries.
“I remember his face. I remember seeing them there,” Minter said. “I remember the two of them, Profit and Ayala, shoving the women around.”
The house where the horror happened is still standing.
Samuel Ayala, James Walls and Willie Profit forced their way into Watson’s home, where Minter’s 3-year-old sister was playing with Watson’s daughter.
Minter arrived at the home with his mother and Watson’s son and walked in on the attack.
Minter and the other children were kept in an upstairs bedroom, while his mother and Watson were raped and then shot multiple times in an adjoining bedroom.
“I lived with that guilt for many years,” said Minter, now 43. “I was the oldest child there and I was unable to save her.”
Minter said he tried to stop the attack.
“I started being slightly aggressive — as aggressive as a 6 year-old could be — asking, ‘What are you doing? Why are you doing this?’ That sort of thing,” he said. “And Willie Profit took the barrel of his gun and stuck it against my nose.”
Now 63, convicted killer Ayala is seeking release from prison. Minter has urged the parole board to say no.
“If terrorizing two women and four children over the period of an hour, beating then and then raping them and then shooting them while the children listen to the sounds — if that is not an offense where one should be behind bars for the rest of their life, what is that offense?” he said. “I’d like to know.”
Ayala got the maximum punishment for the crime back then – 25 years to life – along with his co-defendants. For 37 years, he has been a model prisoner, completing his sex offender program.
Thousands of people have signed an online petition to the New York State Parole Board to deny Ayala and his two accomplices inmates early release.
“We’ve been amazed at the responses thus far,” said Minter.
Ayala is legally eligible for parole, but Minter and the neighbors in South Salem who remember the killing said some acts are beyond redemption.
“I just can’t believe it,” said Paul Dubivny.
Dubivny knew both the victims, and stayed in touch with the son who was left behind.
“The pain is never going to go away because they were so close to us,” he said. “Bottom line, I hope Jason wins and keeps him in prison.”
Ayala’s parole hearing is set for Jan. 20. The petition also indicates that Profit – the other convicted killer – could be paroled, but Young reported he is not eligible for parole because of crimes he committed while behind bars.
Walls and Profit also received sentences of 25 years to life.
The defendants all became eligible for parole in 2002, but have been denied every two years since, DNAinfo reported.
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