By AMY LINDBLOM
Gregory Todd Byers spent his 38th birthday in prison on June 6.
It's the same place he has spent 17 previous birthdays, and where he will spend at least one more.
Byers, also known as Gregory Todd Darrah, killed his 22-year-old half-brother, Doug Darrah, at a Mono Village mobile home on April 29, 1985, in the last of many arguments the two had over the courses of their lifetimes.
He pleaded guilty to the crime and was sentenced to 20 years to life with the possibility of parole.
Bill Sessa, spokesman for the California Board of Prison Terms, said Byers has attended four parole hearings since September 1996, and has been denied each time. The last hearing was earlier this month. The next one is set for June 2004.
"Inmates are entitled to a parole hearing every five years, and are typically granted one once every one or two years," Sessa said.
Of the 5,000 parole hearings conducted for "lifers" in 2002, the Board of Prison Terms decided in favor of parole for 220 inmates. Yet Gov. Gray Davis agreed to parole only five of those 220 all women who killed as a result of being victims of domestic violence.
Granting parole for a convicted murderer is not a decision the board takes lightly, said Sessa, because "the consequences of making the wrong decision on granting parole for a murderer can be very severe."
Byers was 19 on April 29, 1985, when he killed his half brother in a mobile home they shared with Byers' girlfriend.
Byers and Darrah had not gotten along in years and the friction between the two got hotter after Byers started dating a girl Darrah had previously dated. The last time the two fought, Byers left the house, got a .12 gauge shotgun, came back to the house and shot Darrah point-blank in the head while he was lying in bed.
When he confessed, he told investigators his half-brother laughed at him when he came in with a gun.