James “Rusty” Tramel, the former Santa Barbara prep school
student convicted 21 years ago for his part in the brutal stabbing
murder of a homeless man, gained his freedom this week after
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger chose not to oppose his parole.
Schwarzenegger, who blocked Tramel’s release in the past, accepted
the recommendation of the state parole board, whose members were
impressed by Tramel’s transformation behind bars. In recent years,
Tramel was ordained an Episcopal minister, became engaged to be
married – his fiancée was also a minister – and secured a post with
a parish near Berkeley. After the murder, Santa Barbara became the
flashpoint of a major homeless-rights campaign. Homeless advocates
wore pins bearing the last words of the victim: “No, my


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