Man convicted in 1995 fatal beating of infant daughter in Redwood City granted parole

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Despite opposition by prosecutors, a 51-year-old man convicted in the 1995 fatal beating of his 4-months-old daughter at their Redwood City home has been granted parole.

Reynaldo “Rudy” Rivas was found guilty of voluntary manslaughter for the death of his daughter on Feb. 12, 1995 and sentenced to 15 years to life in prison. Prosecutors say the infant was beaten over 12 days for “crying and being upset” by a then 28-year-old father who had “no experience or training” in caring for a baby.

Rivas’ latest parole hearing at Avenal State Prison was his third. After a two-hour hearing, the parole board found that he no longer constitutes an unreasonable risk of danger to the public, and granted him parole. The case now heads to administrative review at the Board of Parole Hearings, and then to Gov. Gavin Newsom, who can reverse or affirm the decision.

The San Mateo County District Attorney’s Office opposes the parole hearing’s decision, saying “the prisoner remains a danger to the public.”

“We felt he needs to serve more time than he did,” said DA Steve Wagstaffe.

Wagstaffe said the parole board has been releasing prisoners at a higher clip, a policy he says doesn’t change his office’s position on public safety concerns.

At the time of the criminal acts in 1995, the county’s Child Protective Services had granted Rivas custody of his daughter because her mother had been serving time in county jail on a probation violation. Then on Feb. 12, 1995, Redwood City police responded to Rivas’ home in the 700 block of Charter Street after he called 911 to say his daughter stopped breathing. While Rivas initially told authorities he had tripped and dropped the baby while carrying her in her room, a coroner’s investigation revealed child abuse, according to a report from the San Francisco Chronicle archives.

After a 16-day jury trial in 1996, the jury returned verdicts of not guilty on a murder count and guilty on the lesser count of voluntary manslaughter and also felony child endangerment causing death. He was sentenced to 15 years to life in prison. During the trial, Rivas was described as having been incapable of caring for a child, having had no experience or training whatsoever, according to prosecutors.