South Lake Tahoe murderer found initially suitable for parole | TahoeDailyTribune.com

South Lake Tahoe murderer found initially suitable for parole

SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. — A South Lake Tahoe man who murdered a teenage acquaintance and was sentenced to life in prison 14 years ago has been found initially suitable for parole, but cannot be released until June 2015 at the earliest, according to California parole officials and records of their deliberations. Charles 'Chad' Newport, 33, was 19 when he killed Melissa Hanson, also 19, in her bedroom in her parents' South Lake Tahoe home on June 10, 2000. At a Board of Parole hearing at the California Men's Colony in May, Newport recounted his growing problems with drug use, negative emotions, social anxiety and violence before the crime, describing himself as a "wreck spiraling out of control." Newport murdered Hanson after a night of heavy drinking and cocaine use with other friends. Hanson had invited Newport to stay the night at her parents' home and sparked his outrage by turning down his sexual advances. "I started cussing her out and she slapped me. She had every right to do it. I was way out of line," Newport told the Board of Parole. "I just lost it. The dam broke. All this anger and rage, it just came out of me. I just saw her as another failure in my life and I became so angry." Newport suffocated Hanson to death with a pillow. "I should have tried to resuscitate her," he said. "I should have picked up the phone and called 911. I should have called anybody, somebody, and I didn't." Instead, Newport said he cried on the floor and panicked. When Hanson's mother came to the bedroom, Newport blocked the door until she went to a phone to call police. He then "put (Melissa) in the closet like she was nothing" and snuck out a window. Newport was arrested two days after the killing and pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in El Dorado County Superior Court. Authorities dropped several felony charges of unlawful sex with a minor, cases involving other South Lake Tahoe teenagers. Newport had prior juvenile arrests for battery and at the time of the murder was on probation for felony assault with a deadly weapon. A psychiatrist who evaluated him for the Board of Parole found he would pose a low-to-moderate risk for violence if released. At the initial suitability for parole hearing, Newport said there was no reason or excuse for him to kill Hanson. Newport said he is prepared to spend the rest of his life in prison and deserved the sentence for his crime. But he added that he has dedicated his life to "correcting and bettering" himself with Alcoholics Anonymous and counseling, getting a vocational certificate in office skills and volunteering with a hospice program for prisoners. "Everything I've done is for her. The behaviors I've changed, getting help, it's for her family. I stole their daughter. I murdered her brother's sister. I decimated their family and I get that. I can't imagine what they went through and what they're still going through," Newport told the Board of Parole. "I murdered an innocent human being because I couldn't cope with life. And for that, I'm so sorry. The only way I can make any, any kind of amends is by changing myself so that it never happens again, and that's what I'm trying to do." Board of Parole members said Newport has shown remorse and accepted full responsibility for the senseless killing of an innocent young woman as well as identified and addressed the issues that fueled his drug use, anger and violence as a teenager. "You definitely have embarked on a program and (shown) systematically that you're not the same person that you were when you committed this crime," Board of Parole Deputy Commissioner Jeff Champlin said. Champlin and Presiding Commissioner Amarik Singh supported an initial suitability for parole finding. They noted it does not diminish the horrific and unjustified crime Newport committed and also cautioned Newport that the finding is tentative. It is subject to 120 days of review by the Parole Hearings Decision Review Unit. After that, the California governor can uphold or overturn the finding or request a full review by the 12-member Board of Parole. Newport also must go through a progress review hearing before his minimum eligible parole release date of June 12, 2015, which is the soonest he could be released from prison, Singh said. If released, Newport plans to spend at least six months at The Francisco Homes, a transitional living facility in Los Angeles. He would then reunite with family in Sacramento and El Dorado counties. Jodie Jensen, a deputy district attorney for El Dorado County, opposed the initial suitability for parole finding. Jensen argued the support system Newport plans to rely on after being released is the same support system that failed to intervene before he spiraled out of control and killed someone. She also argued Newport has never lived on his own as an adult and lacks skills needed to reintegrate into society. People can support or oppose Newport's parole by writing to the Board of Parole Hearings, PO Box 4036, Sacramento, CA 95812-4036. Letters should be marked "Attention Legal Unit."

Man gets 15 years for murder

A judge ordered 15 years in prison for a man who took a pillow and suffocated to death Melissa Monoogan Hanson, a 19-year-old from South Lake Tahoe. Charles “Chad” Newport Jr., 20, was sentenced Thursday in El Dorado County Superior Court after pleading guilty to the second-degree murder of Hanson. Fifteen years to life is the maximum sentence Judge Jerald Lasarow could impose for the crime. Because of a change in sentence requirements about a year ago, Newport will not be eligible for parole until he has served 15 years minus the 319 days he has already served in El Dorado County Jail. Hanson was murdered June 10. Her body was left sitting lifeless inside her bedroom closet. Carla Hanson, the girl’s mother, made the discovery around 6 a.m. Newport and Melissa Hanson had been friends and were out partying together the night she was murdered. Newport drove Melissa back to her mother’s house where, according to a note he wrote found by deputies, he “snapped” and killed the 19-year-old. Thursday seats in the courtroom were nearly filled as Newport stood several feet from Carla Hanson and read an apology. “I’d like to address the family please,” Newport said as he turned toward Hanson. “I’m her mother,” Carla said quickly. As she listened to the man who murdered her daughter, her hand shook as it gripped a statement she had written to read to Newport. “This is probably the hardest thing I have ever had to do,” he said. “I’ve taken the life of a beautiful woman, a person who meant so much to so many people … now her brother must grow up without the love of a big sister, something I have been able to cherish in my own life. I’ve cried myself to sleep many nights. I’ve tried taking my life, but to no avail. Words can’t describe how ashamed I am of myself. I ask myself why, was it the drugs and alcohol I used, or the years of depression I experienced, perhaps a little of both. There’s only one person to blame here and that’s me, regardless of the circumstances. All I can do is ask your forgiveness.” Hanson shot back, “No, I will never forgive you.” Then it was her turn to speak. Several times she pointed a finger at him and leaned over a wooden wall that separated her and Newport. “We want to know why,” she asked. “Melissa was a beautiful woman with many friends including you. Chad, you don’t know what depression is. I do. I’ve been to hell and I am finding my way back. You should get life in prison, but whatever sentence you receive you will always be in prison for life in your mind for what you did.” Then Hanson spoke about the memorial held for her daughter and how many friends came in support. “How many friends have stayed by you Chad?,” she asked. “I guess you’ll make new friends in prison.” After she finished, she sat down and was met by hands and embraces from a large group of family members. As Charles Newport Sr., an AIDS educator at El Dorado County Health Department and father of Chad Newport, sat and watched the emotional exchange, tears filled his eyes. Deputy District Attorney Michael Atwell was next to speak. He told the court one of the most disturbing aspects of the crime is that Newport has not explained, even after his statement that day in court, why he committed murder. “He still hasn’t told us a reason for it,” Atwell said. “Except for his statement about using drugs and alcohol.” Then, after Judge Lasarow handed down the sentence, Carla Hanson requested a bailiff give Newport a piece of paper containing a poem titled “I’m Free” and Melissa’s picture. The bailiff placed it on a table in front of him, but Newport’s eyes remained glued to the floor. The 20-year-old will next be in court May 3. He may be sentenced to additional time in prison for violating parole for being under the influence of a controlled substance when deputies apprehended him two days after the murder. That was a violation of the terms of probation he was under after being convicted of assault with a deadly weapon in January 1999. He spent seven months in jail for that crime. Judge Lasarow ruled that conviction should not be considered a strike. The second-degree murder conviction is now the only strike on Newport’s criminal record. At one point, prosecutors also charged Newport with having unlawful sexual intercourse with two minors, but those charges were dropped as part of his second-degree murder plea agreement. Prior to his plea bargain, Newport had been charged with first-degree murder for Hanson’s death. It is a crime punishable by 25 years to life in prison.

Teen died of asphyxiation

Melissa Hanson, a 19-year-old found dead in her bedroom closet June 10, was asphyxiated, South Lake Tahoe Police Detective Martin Hewlett said. The cause of death is still under investigation because police are awaiting results of toxicology tests they expect in the next two or three weeks, Hewlett said. Charles “Chad” Newport pleaded not guilty June 14 to first-degree murder charges in connection with the death of Hanson, known to many as Melissa Monoogan. If Newport is convicted of murder he could be sentenced to 25 years to life in prison. His preliminary hearing is scheduled for Thursday at 8 a.m. in El Dorado County Superior Court. El Dorado County Sheriff’s Department took Newport into custody for violating probation and because they found “a note that expressed his involvement in Hanson’s death.” Hanson’s body was found by her mother around 6:30 a.m. at the 800 block of Clement Street. After hearing noise coming from the room, her mother knocked on Hanson’s bedroom door around 6 a.m. and a received a response from an unknown male. Minutes later she entered the room and found her daughter’s body inside the bedroom closet, police said. Newport, 19, avoided police before he was found June 12 near the parking lot of Angora Lake Trailhead. Deputies reported that he was “under the influence” of a drug and arrested him for violating probation. In August, Newport was sentenced to three years of probation and seven months in the El Dorado County Jail for his involvement in a home invasion Jan. 31, 1999 at the 3100 block of Oakland Avenue. He was released Dec. 21 after serving four months of his sentence. Hanson and Newport were “known acquaintances” and “had associated together with other friends the evening prior to her death,” Hewlett said. “They were partying at an apartment and then went to a bar.”

Letter: Consideration lacking for Vvictims family

To the editor: After reading the front page of the Feb. 15 issue of the Tahoe Daily Tribune, “Murder suspect pleads out,” I just had to express my opinion and also my disgust on this particular matter. Following this case since June 10, 2000, I am appalled with the court system in our county. After having the trial of the accused change dates month after month, the one day the suspect “Chad Newport” pleads guilty to second degree murder, I would think the victim’s family would have been given the same consideration to attend the hearing as the suspect’s family was. It states in the paper that “Newport’s mother and brother were in attendance.” It also states, “Carla Hanson, Melissa’s mother, could not be reached for comment.” That’s because no one attempted to reach her. Could the reason be the manslaughter pleas was denied, so in order not to delay the process any further the victim’s family was not notified until after the fact? You be the judge. The suspect seems to blame his “deep, dark depression” for taking the life of this beautiful daughter, sister and friend from us all. That is a reason I cannot comprehend. I feel the second degree murder charge is not enough for the life he has taken and all the lives he has destroyed. I urge everyone who feels similar to write to the El Dorado County Courthouse to express their feelings toward this matter. His sentencing is scheduled April 26, 1:30 p.m., to only 15 years to life. Hopefully the parole board (when the time comes) will feel as most of us do and give this man what he truly deserves – life in prison. Marla Robertson South Lake Tahoe

Newport hearing set back

The preliminary hearing of Charles “Chad” Newport, a man charged with the murder of 19-year-old Melissa Hanson, has been pushed back until Sept. 7 because lawyers have not received complete autopsy reports. Judge Jerald Lasarow approved the new date Wednesday afternoon in El Dorado Superior Court. The hearing was originally scheduled to occur today. Hanson, known to many as Melissa Monoogan, was found dead in her bedroom closet by her mother June 10. Police said asphyxiation caused her death, but they are waiting for the results of toxicology tests. Newport, 19, pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder charges June 14. Court documents state that Hanson and Newport were partying together the night before her death. A group of friends, including Newport and Hanson, gathered at an apartment in the 800 block of Lakeview Avenue and walked to Rojo’s Restaurant & Bar. At the bar, the group drank and danced and at one point Newport and Hanson were reportedly seen holding hands. Later, the group drove to Carrows Restaurant in Newport’s car. From there, Newport drove to his house where two friends left on foot, leaving just Newport and Hanson. Court documents state that Newport allegedly called a friend at 4 a.m. and told him he was with Hanson at Hanson’s house. Around 4:30 a.m., Melissa’s mother, Carla, heard noises in her house that she believed was her daughter coming home from a night out. At 6:05 a.m., Carla reportedly heard rumblings coming from her daughter’s room that sounded like someone was cleaning the room. According to court documents, when Carla saw her daughter’s bedroom door slightly open she called out “Melissa.” A male voice responded by saying something similar to “hold on, give me a minute. I’m putting my pants on.” Carla reportedly felt like the man was holding the door so that she couldn’t enter her daughter’s bedroom. She also began to hear drawers opening and closing, and she believes she heard a window open. Carla opened the door part way until she could remove a statue and a speaker blocking the door, court documents state. In the room she noticed Melissa’s phone line had been disconnected and that there was a lump in her daughter’s bed. Carla pulled back the covers but found nothing. Then she checked the closet because she reportedly thought her daughter might have been hiding. When she opened the closet she found Melissa lying on the floor with her knees partially bent and her head tilted to the right side, court documents state. Carla checked for a pulse and found none. Seconds later she saw a blue compact car speeding away from her house, but could not see the car clearly because she wasn’t wearing her glasses. Police reported that Melissa was wearing pajama-type clothing, the lower half of which appeared disheveled. Her eyes were red and there was “hardened reddish fluid about the nose and a clear fluid about the mouth.” The preliminary autopsy indicated there were no signs of forced sexual intercourse, investigators said. Newport didn’t show up for work and police found him on the afternoon of June 12 near the parking lot of Angora Lake Trailhead. Deputies reported that he was “under the influence” of a drug and took Newport into custody for violating probation and because they found “a note that expressed his involvement in Hanson’s death.” Newport refused a sexual assault exam while at Barton Memorial Hospital to take a drug test and a pre-incarceration physical, police said. In August, Newport was sentenced to three months of probation and seven months in El Dorado County Jail for his involvement in a home invasion Jan. 31, 1999, at the 3100 block of Oakland Avenue. He was released Dec. 21, after serving four months of his sentence. If Newport is convicted of murder he could be sentenced to 25 years to life in prison.

Murder suspect pleas not guilty

Charles “Chad” Newport pleaded not guilty Wednesday to first-degree murder charges in connection with the death of 19-year-old Melissa Hanson. Newport’s preliminary hearing is scheduled for June 29 in El Dorado County Superior Court. If convicted, he could face 25 years to life in prison. El Dorado County Sheriff’s deputies took Newport into custody Monday for violating probation and because they found “a note that expressed his involvement in Hanson’s death.” Hanson’s body was found in her bedroom closet by her mother Saturday around 6:30 a.m. at the 800 block of Clement Street. After hearing noise coming from the room, her mother knocked on Hanson’s bedroom door around 6 a.m. and a received a response from an unknown male. Minutes later she entered the room and found her daughter’s body, South Lake Tahoe Police said. Newport, 19, avoided police before he was found Monday afternoon near the parking lot of Angora Lake Trailhead. Deputies reported that he was “under the influence” of a drug and arrested him for violating probation. In August, Newport was sentenced to three years of probation and seven months in the El Dorado County Jail for his involvement in a home invasion Jan. 31, 2000 at the 3100 block of Oakland Avenue. He was released Dec. 21, after serving four months of his sentence. Hanson and Newport were “known acquaintances” and “had associated together with other friends the evening prior to her death,” said South Lake Tahoe Police Detective Martin Hewlett. “They all were partying at an apartment and then went to a bar.” Newport, represented by court-appointed defense lawyer Simon Harvey, has not made a statement concerning the case, Hewlett said. Police plan to withhold findings of Hanson’s autopsy until they get the results of toxicology tests. Detective Hewlett said the test results, which were given top priority, should arrive in about a month.

Murder suspect pleads out

A young man pleaded guilty to the second-degree murder of 19-year-old Melissa Hanson Wednesday in El Dorado County Superior Court. Charles “Chad” Newport, a 20-year-old from South Shore, is expected to receive a prison sentence of 15-years-to-life. With his plea, Newport admitted he suffocated Hanson in her bedroom. El Dorado County Deputy District Attorney Michael Atwell said Newport used a pillow to commit the crime. Carla Hanson found her daughter, who many knew as Melissa Monoogan, dead June 10 around 6 a.m. She was seated with her head resting against the wall of her bedroom closet. El Dorado County Sheriff’s deputies arrested Newport two days later. They found him in the parking lot of Angora Lakes where he was cooperative but wearing socks and no shoes and under the influence of a controlled substance. Through the window of Newport’s car an investigator saw and read a suicide note. It stated: “I guess if someone is reading this, I’m already dead. First off I want to tell everyone I’m sorry. I never meant for things to happen like this. I don’t know why I killed Melissa. I’ve been in a deep, dark depression for many years now. Melissa and I were hooking up in her room and all of the sudden I snapped. I just started suffocating her. Next thing I knew she was dead. Once again I’m sorry for her and her family.” Newport’s mother and brother were in court for the plea hearing. They would not comment on the guilty plea. His mother left the courtroom in tears. The brother left the building clearly upset. Carla Hanson, Melissa’s mother, could not be reached for comment Wednesday. Atwell said he spoke with her last week and that she “had approved a second-degree settlement.” At the hearing Newport was shackled with chains and had his light-brown hair in a crew cut. When he first sat beside Amy Tobin, his court-appointed defense attorney, he took a deep breath, hunched over in his chair and stared at the floor. “Because this is a violent crime you’ll have to serve 85 percent of your time,” said visiting Judge Richard A. Haugner. “And you’ll always have a life sentence hanging over your head. Do you understand that?” Newport nodded his head and said, “Yes.” As part of the plea bargain El Dorado County District Attorney’s Office agreed not to prosecute Newport for two counts of having unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor. Those charges were pending because of the murder charge. The court is yet to rule on the violation of probation he was booked for June 12, the day he was arrested for murder. Investigators reportedly found him under the influence of an illegal drug. That was a violation of the terms of probation he was under after being convicted of assault with a deadly weapon in January 1999. He spent seven months in jail for that crime. Last week Judge Jerald Lasarow ruled the assault conviction should not be considered a strike. The second-degree murder conviction is now the only strike on Newport’s criminal record. Prior to his plea bargain, Newport had been charged with first-degree murder for Hanson’s death. It’s a crime punishable by 25 years to life in prison. “It’s an appropriate plea,” Atwell said. “He appears to be taking responsibility for what he did. “This is a case in which we don’t know a great deal of what went on in the bedroom. Only Melissa and Charles know what happened. And he’s (Charles) has never explained it to anybody.” Atwell explained that, beside the suicide note, the evidence was circumstantial. “Not so strong enough that it would have been appropriate to take it to trial,” he said. “Melissa Hanson died, she can’t provide us any assistance. There’s nothing other than that suicide note … A jury could make a choice to go with first-degee or go with second.” Newport is expected to be sentenced April 26 at 1:30 p.m. in El Dorado County Superior Court.

More charges likely for murder suspect

In addition to being charged with the murder of 19-year-old Melissa Hanson, Charles “Chad” Newport may be charged with having unlawful sexual intercourse with two teen-age girls, South Lake Tahoe Police Detective Martin Hewlett said. Hewlett said he learned about Newport’s sexual encounters with a 15-year-old and 17-year-old girl while investigating Hanson’s death and that both incidents occurred earlier this year. The two new cases pending against Newport have been sent to El Dorado County District Attorney’s Office in Placerville. Deputy District Attorney Jennifer Nelson is reviewing the cases and has not yet filed additional charges against Newport. Hanson, known to many as Melissa Monoogan, was found dead in her bedroom closet by her mother June 10. Police said asphyxiation caused her death, but they are waiting for the results of toxicology tests. Newport, 19, pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder charges June 14. In August he was sentenced to three years of probation and seven months in El Dorado County Jail for his involvement in a home invasion Jan. 31, 1999 at the 3100 block of Oakland Avenue. He was released Dec. 21, after serving four months of his sentence. If he is convicted on the murder charges Newport could be sentenced to 25 years to life in prison. His preliminary hearing is scheduled July 27 at 8 a.m. in El Dorado County Superior Court.

Newport faces longer jail time under "strike" law

A 19-year-old man accused of murder has also been charged with three felony counts of unlawful sex with a minor. Charles “Chad” Newport, charged with the murder of 19-year-old Melissa Hanson, is also charged with having sex with two girls, a 15- and 17-year-old. Both incidents reportedly occurred at South Shore earlier this year. El Dorado County Deputy District Attorney Lisa Serafini filed the charges Tuesday. In August 1999, Newport was sentenced to three years of probation and seven months in El Dorado County Jail for his involvement in a home invasion Jan. 31, 1999, at the 3100 block of Oakland Avenue. He was released Dec. 21 after serving four months of his sentence. Serafini said his conviction related to the home invasion was a strike and will enhance the sentence Newport could face if he is found guilty of having unlawful sex. A “strike enhancement” means the sentence is doubled and 80 percent of the time must be served. The normal sentence for an unlawful sex felony charge is 16 months, 2 or 3 years in prison. With the enhancement, Newport could be sentenced to a maximum of six years in prison for each count. South Lake Tahoe Police Detective Martin Hewlett said he discovered Newport’s sexual encounters with the girls while investigating Hanson’s death. Newport is next due in court Sept. 7 for a preliminary hearing on first-degree murder charges.

Man arrested in woman’s death

A South Lake Tahoe man was arrested Monday in connection with the death of 19-year-old Melissa Hanson. Charles Newport, 19, is in the South Lake Tahoe Jail and will receive “some sort of homicide-related charge,” said Detective Martin Hewlett of the South Lake Tahoe Police Department. “Currently the South Lake Tahoe Police Department has one suspect in custody concerning the death of Melissa Hanson,” Hewlett said. “Right now, I am writing search warrants for various locations that hopefully will uncover additional evidence.” Hanson’s body was found in her bedroom closet Saturday morning at the 800 block of Clement Street. Hanson, who was also known as Melissa Monoogan, did not respond to her mother’s knock on her bedroom door at 6 a.m. Around 6:35 a.m. her mother entered the room and found her in the closet, not breathing, police said. Investigators are awaiting results from Monday’s autopsy at the Sacramento County Coroner’s Office. Kim Payne, a close friend of Hanson, said she saw Hanson Friday and has no idea what caused her death. “I’m wondering what happened,” said Payne, a 21-year-old who works at Savvy, a women’s clothing store in South Lake Tahoe. “I took her to work that day (Friday). She was my best friend.” Tessa Garcia, a former friend and neighbor of Hanson, said she was shocked to hear of the death. “I knew her from when I was born until the sixth grade,” Garcia, an 18-year-old South Lake Tahoe resident, said. “I was shocked. I just wish I could have talked to her more. I just hope her mom, her little brother and her dad are OK.”