The following is a press release issued by the Mendocino County District Attorney’s Office:
A former Point Arena resident sentenced in 1990 to up to life in state prison for the murder of an unsuspecting victim in 1989 was tentatively approved for parole on Tuesday by a panel of appointed commissioners from the Board of Prison Terms.
Cameron Neil Whitlock, now 60 years of age, was convicted by a Mendocino County jury in April 1990 of murder in the second degree using a firearm causing the death of a well-known and respected Mendocino Coast contractor, Wallace Herbert Kuntz. Mr. Kuntz was 58 years of age at the time of his untimely death.
Whitlock was also convicted by the jury of robbery in the second degree and vehicle theft.
Kuntz was working at a housing project on the Manchester-Point Arena Rancheria when he was killed. The investigators at the time said Kuntz was sitting in his pickup truck getting ready to drive home for the day when Whitlock walked up to the driver’s side window and out of the blue shot Kuntz in the head.
Whitlock then climbed into the truck, shot Kuntz again, and drove the victim’s truck about two miles down the road with the contractor’s body slumped over and still inside.
Investigators at the time said that Whitlock pulled over, dragged the contractor’s body from the vehicle and covered it with brush. Whitlock then torched the brush, engulfing Kuntz’s body in flames in an effort to dispose of the body.
Originally sentenced to 21 years to life in state prison in May 1990, the defendant’s sentence was reduced to 20 years to life in September 2022 because a sentencing enhancement proven and lawful in 1990 – alleging that Whitlock had served a prior state prison sentence and had not stayed free for five years of a new felony offense — was repealed by the Legislature in 2021 to reduce the length of prison sentences and speed up the release of all levels of prison inmates.
Whitlock had previously made application for release on parole and had his applications in 2002, 2007, 2008, 2013, and 2017 denied.
Whitlock also filed a petition in April 2019 claiming that the Legislature’s repeal of California’s long-approved version of the felony-murder rule applied to his case, incorrectly claiming that he could no longer be found guilty of murder under California’s modified definitions of murder. That petition was opposed by the District Attorney and denied in May 2019.
Appearing on behalf of the District Attorney at this week’s parole hearing was Deputy District Attorney Ivan Abrams.
Appearing with DDA Abrams to oppose parole was retired Sheriff’s investigator (and the DA’s former Chief of Investigations) Tim Kiely.
As they had at all prior parole hearings, members of the Kuntz family also appeared at the Tuesday hearing to speak against the inmate’s release back into the community … to no avail.
Once a panel decision tentatively approving parole of an inmate serving a sentence of up to life is final, generally after the 120-day decision review period, Governor Newsom has the statutory authority under Penal Code sections 3041.1 and 3041.2 to review parole suitability decisions.
Up to 90 days prior to a scheduled release date of any inmate convicted of murder, which means Whitlock, Governor Newsom has the authority to reverse or modify the Board’s decision without referring it back to the Board of Prison Terms for additional review.