|And Then One Night: The Making of Dead Man Walking: The Betty Carlson Story|
A Victim's Journey: The Betty Carlson Story
"I have never wanted this man's life. I just don't want him out. Annette and Frank deserve no less." Betty Carlson, speaking about her feelings for her son's killer.
A moratorium on the death penalty meant that her son's killer would have a chance at parole. With her daughter-in-law emotionally unable to face the parole hearings, Betty Carlson assumed the yearly responsibility. After years of fighting to change the parole laws, Betty Carlson now has evolved into a full-time victims' rights advocate. These are the events which led her to her status as a victims' rights advocate.
April 19, 1974
Angelo Pavageau breaks into the home of Frank and Annette Carlson in San Francisco's Potrero Hill neighborhood. He beats Frank to death with a bread board and a hammer. He then sexually assaults the 24-year-old Annette for six hours, breaking several of her bones. After attempting to strangle her, he sets the house on fire and leaves. Annette manages to escape and go for help.
Angelo Pavageau is convicted and sentenced to death.
The California Supreme Court declares the death penalty cruel and unusual punishment. His sentence is commuted to life in jail, now with the possibility of parole.
First parole hearing for Angelo Pavageau. Annette Carlson is unable to attend due to her severe psychological and emotional trauma. Betty attends the parole board hearing and speaks, in detail, about the crimes Angelo committed. According to California law at the time, she will have to testify every two years in order to keep him in jail.
Betty and Annette Carlson are invited to testify before President Reagan's commission on crime. Her testimony consists of reviewing the events of April 19, 1974, and asking for any help the federal government might give. Harriet Salarno, whose daughter had been murdered, contacts Betty after the hearing. They agree that they need to do something to benefit victim survivors.
Betty Carlson, Harriet Salarno, Elisa Ann Daria, Ann Povarella and John Friedlander incorporate Justice for Murder Victims which had been formed in 1979. The organization is one of the first advocacy groups for victims.
Betty Carlson files an amicus brief with the United States Supreme Court. The Supreme Court passes the brief. Now Betty can appear every five years before the parole board instead of every two.
Betty Carlson makes her 10th appearance before the parole board to testify about her son's murder and daughter-in-law's assault.
Betty begins her 27th year working as a victims' rights advocate. In addition to her advocacy work and other numerous volunteer positions, Betty also works for Congressman Tom Lantos as a staff assistant, a position she has held for 17 years.
For an interactive journey including video clips, visit pbs.org/onenight.