Samuel Ayala Has Been In Prison For More Than 40 Years, But Victim's Son Says Lack Of In-Person Statement Likely Contributed To Board's Decision

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — He witnessed his mother’s rape and murder when he was just a little boy and now the man who killed her and another woman in Westchester County four decades ago is about to be set free.

That little boy is now 50 years old and he recently sat down with CBS2’s Alice Gainer and said giving a victim impact statement over the phone rather than in person may have made the difference.

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“The women were beaten and raped. They were shot as they crawled away from the men on the floor,” Jason Minter said.

Minter was 6 years old the day his mother, Bonnie, and her friend, Sheila Watson, were murdered during a home invasion in South Salem in 1977.

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Minter, his sister, and the two other children were put into another room.

“The women were begging for our lives and theirs,” Minter said. “When I went into the room after the men had run out of the house laughing, I found both women in fetal positions with their clothes pulled down.”

Three men were convicted and sentenced to 25 years to life — Samuel Ayala, Willie Profit, and James Walls, who waited in the van outside.

Profit died in prison. Walls was paroled not that long ago, but Minter supported his release after time served for his smaller role.

For years the family has spoken in person before the parole board against Ayala’s release.

“This year, we were told early on that there could be no in-person meeting due to COVID and that we were going to have to do just a phone interview, which is unfortunate,” Minter said.

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He said despite that he still never believed they would grant release. But on July 20, the parole board granted 68-year-old Ayala an open release date of Sept. 3.

“I really thought in my heart of hearts that nobody would ever release somebody who had done these unspeakable atrocities to other human beings,” Minter said.

Ayala completed a sex offender program, but Minter doesn’t believe he’s rehabilitated or remorseful, noting Ayala sent an apology letter six years ago. Minter suspects it was more for the parole board than for his family.

He hasn’t seen Ayala’s face since that day when he not only took Minter’s mother away from him, but also his memories of her.

“I’m unable to think about her in any other way but how this crime has affected all of us as a family,” Minter said.

“If anyone deserves lifetime incarceration, why is it not Sam Ayala?” he added.

Minter has spent his life trying to keep him behind bars. He’s shocked and also fearful.

The New York State Board of Parole members are appointed by the governor and confirmed by the senate. It’s final and cannot be appealed.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo‘s Office did not respond when asked for comment.

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