An inmate serving life for murdering a southeastern Minnesota police chief in the late 1980s has lost his latest plea for parole but was granted a chance at freedom much sooner the next time and is on his way to less restrictive incarceration, the state Department of Corrections said Wednesday.
Andrew Salinas’ case was among several on Tuesday that went before DOC Commissioner Paul Schnell and the advisory Parole Review Board, composed of corrections officials.
This was the third time Salinas’ bid for freedom was turned down.
Salinas, 56, can seek parole again in 2023, a far shorter time span than his previous wait between hearings.
He admitted to first-degree murder in the July 1988 shooting of Claremont Police Chief Gregory Lange.
Salinas was sentenced to life in prison in January 1989. He was 25.
He became eligible once he had served what at the time was the 17-year minimum.
In 1993, the Legislature made life with no chance of parole the punishment for killing a law enforcement or corrections officer.
Also, Salinas is slated at Schnell’s direction to move from the Rush City prison to a lower-security facility, “where he can access additional programs and services,” said DOC spokesman Nick Kimball.
Lange was responding to domestic trouble at Salinas’ home when he was beaten with a shovel, then shot twice with his own gun. Lange was killed less than 200 feet from where he lived with his wife, Susan, and their 12-year-old son.
Susan Lange was among a number of Lange’s loved ones who spoke to the parole board via telephone conference call about the impact the killing has had on their lives.
She said Wednesday that “in light of 24 hours to think about [the review] as well as speaking with the commissioner and finding out more, we are all OK” with how corrections officials are handling Salinas.
Along with speaking to the board, Lange submitted a letter that noted, “This is the third time that we have had to do a life sentence review, and this has been the most difficult” because it was held four days before she and her husband would have celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary.
“We got 18 years together, and I am forever grateful that I had that,” her letter continued, “but Andrew Salinas took from us our remaining years that we had planned for and dreamed of as grandparents and retired from jobs to enjoy life.”
Dodge County Sheriff Scott Rose, whose county includes Claremont, said he is disappointed that the parole board “plans on putting this family through another parole hearing in three short years. His last hearing was eight years ago.”
The sheriff pointed out that Salinas “not only beat and shot Chief Greg Lange — who likely saved the life of Salinas’ girlfriend and baby who he was arguing with at gunpoint — but he shot the chief a second time at point-blank range in the back while he was down to ensure Greg would die.”