IONE — The son and daughter of a Fairfield barber who was murdered in Vacaville in 1991 made the long trip Wednesday from the Bay Area to Mule Creek State Prison in Amador County to fight against the possibility of their father’s killer being paroled.
David Crone and his sister, Suzanne France, were joined at the prison by Solano County Deputy District Attorney Elizabeth Ring, who also vehemently opposed the effort of Jeffrey Horstman to get out of prison. Horstman is serving a 26-years-to-life prison sentence and becomes eligible for parole later this year.
Horstman, 53, described himself as an outcast in the prison system. He told a pair of commissioners with the state Board of Parole Hearings that keeping him behind bars was “just a waste of time.” He talked a lot about the prison mental health counseling and drug treatment he has participated in over the years, and mentioned getting his high school equivalency certificate in 2003.
Horstman blamed methamphetamine and crack cocaine for why he senselessly murdered 64-year-old Farrell Crone on the afternoon of Feb. 22, 1991. Horstman, then 30, said he had been up for 43 days and “was spun out” when he met Crone in the parking lot of the Golden Hills Plaza Shopping Center off of Alamo Drive.
Horstman said he told Crone he and his wife and 2-year-old son were being pursued and they needed a ride to safety.
Crone agreed to give them a ride. They got into his Chrysler and drove off. Crone was found a short time later, lying in the roadway on Mason Street. He had been stabbed once in the chest and dumped out of his car, which Horstman drove off in with his family.
The Chrysler was found stripped and abandoned a week later in San Pablo. Horstman was arrested a week after that. He later said he sold car parts from the Chrysler to buy more cocaine.
“My father was trying to help a family in need and lost his life because of (Horstman’s) need to continue being high,” David Crone said later in the hearing. “Horstman traded a life for a Chrysler K car.”
Horstman played down the stabbing. He said that as they were driving he somehow became convinced that the elderly man helping him was part of a conspiracy to kill his family.
“Somewhere in there I had a knife in my hand and I stabbed him one time,” Horstman said. “In my mind I was protecting my wife and child.”
Horstman’s defense attorney, Peter B. Foor, now a long-serving superior court judge, averted Horstman getting a life sentence without possibility of parole by negotiating a deal with prosecutors before trial in which Horstman agreed to plead no contest to first-degree murder in exchange for the 26-years-to life prison sentence.
The day after Horstman was sentenced, he and three other jail inmates escaped from the Solano County jail by cutting through a fence and using tied sheets as a rope to rappel down the side of the jail. Horstman was captured a month later.
Since entering the prison system, Horstman has been involved in nearly 30 acts of violence that include multiple serious attacks on staff and other inmates. He said those were fueled by his need to punish himself for the murder.
After hearing from Crone’s children, the commissioners deemed Horstman was still a danger to society and unsuitable for parole. They made their decision in about 20 minutes and ordered Horstman to serve at least another seven years behind bars before his next parole hearing.
David Crone told the commissioners “a huge hole had opened up” in his life again when he got the letter advising of the parole hearing and that, as a Christian, he still struggles with the idea of forgiveness, but still wants justice.
Suzanne France cried as she told the commissioners that her father had been looking forward to retirement when his life was ended while he was doing a good deed. She wept as she described not having her father at her 1996 wedding and not having a grandfather for her son.