LYNNWOOD — Another teen killer from Snohomish County is seeking early release from prison.
Lars Snow, of Edmonds, is 38. He was 16 when he and his friends attacked and killed Pedro Sabando in 1995. The 65-year-old Vietnam War veteran was working as a security guard at a Lynnwood-area car lot.
Snow lured him into the open. Then Justin Laks hit him repeatedly on the back of the head with a bottle. Snow also jumped on Sabando’s head, and the teens stole his wallet, according to coverage in The Daily Herald. Another boy, Carl Johnson Jr., was supposed to act as lookout.
Snow and Laks pleaded guilty in 1996 to first-degree murder. Both were sentenced to nearly 29 years in prison, where they remain today. Because of their ages at the time they were convicted and more recent changes under law, they fall under the jurisdiction of the Indeterminate Sentence Review Board, which works closely with state corrections.
Snow is expected to make his case to the review board Feb. 21.
His freedom could be made possible in light of a 2012 U.S. Supreme Court ruling about the lengths of sentences for young offenders. The ruling prompted additional reforms in Washington. Since then, several local convictions have come up for reconsideration. At least one person was granted parole, while two others were denied, but told they could try again after more time has passed.
Laks went before the review board in February 2017. His release has been scheduled for August. Before that happens, he must complete a transition process that’s required for anyone who has been behind bars for a long time, said Robin Riley, a spokeswoman for the board. Laks also is required to submit a release plan, which the board must approve, before he can go free.
Johnson, the lookout, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder. He was sentenced to a decade in prison and was freed in 2006.
The Supreme Court’s ruling, Miller v. Alabama, said that life without the possibility of parole is cruel and unusual punishment for inmates who were younger than 18 during their crimes. Washington later passed new laws making dozens of prisoners eligible to make arguments for their freedom or for shorter sentences.
Those considered eligible for a parole hearing must have been teens who received lengthy sentences in adult court. They must have served at least 20 years. The review board is tasked with determining whether the inmate is more likely than not to commit a new crime.
Some cases — teen killers with aggravated murder convictions — get reheard in county courts.
The review board handles other murder cases affected by the ruling, and it is supposed to notify victims’ families of upcoming hearings. It often receives letters from people supporting or opposing the potential release. As of Wednesday, Snow had received seven letters of support, and no letters in opposition, according to public records obtained by the newspaper.
One letter, from June 2016, said Snow has been remorseful. At that time, he had nearly completed his associate’s degree and had channeled his energy into art, including murals at his prison’s visiting room, the letter states. Both his parents also wrote, saying he could live with them. A mechanic in Pierce County told the state he has promised to employ Snow upon release.