At 14, he killed a man. Now 38, victim’s family pleads for his release

SAN DIEGO – The father and sister of a 20-year-old pizza deliveryman who was shot and killed by a 14-year-old boy in San Diego in 1995 will travel to a San Luis Obispo prison Wednesday to urge a state parole board to release the man who killed their son and brother.

Tony Hicks, now 38, was the first youth in California to be tried as an adult under a law adopted in 1995 that allowed juveniles as young as 14 to be tried as adults for murder, according to San Diego Union-Tribune. Hicks pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in the death of Tariq Khamisa and was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison. Hicks has served 23 years behind bars.

Recently, Gov. Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 1391, which overturned that law, eliminating the ability to try a defendant under the age of 16 as an adult for any violent crime.

“If this law had been in effect in 1995, Tony (Hicks) would have been prosecuted in Juvenile Court and paroled many years ago,” said Azim Khamisa, the victim’s father and founder of the Tariq Khamisa Foundation. “The other two individuals involved in the crime were sentenced in Juvenile Court. Tony made a mistake. He has atoned for it in many ways. He has paid his debt to society. It is time for him to be released.”

Tasreen Khamisa, the victim’s sister, said that when he was 16, an immature Hicks was incarcerated with some of the most hardened adult offenders in the state at Folsom Prison.

After the murder, Azim Khamisa founded the Tariq Khamisa Foundation and reached out to Tony Hicks’ grandfather, Ples Felix, in the spirit of forgiveness. Since the beginning, TKF has focused its attention on the same age group Tony Hicks was in when he committed the crime. The foundation has provided mentoring to 2,400 students and stands ready to help more.

“We plan to bring Tony on to the staff at TKF where he can share his powerful message about the consequences of violence and the benefits of restorative justice with thousands of youth,” Tasreen Khamisa said. “The bottom line is that our kids need Tony. He will have a powerful voice in helping stop youth violence.”

In preparation for his second chance at freedom, Hicks has earned his GED and college credits toward an associate’s degree, according to TKF. He has also been writing a blog for TKF’s website, answering student questions.

San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan and Deputy District Attorney Richard Sachs are also expected to attend the parole hearing. Once the parole board makes a decision, it is then subject to review by the governor. Governor-elect Gavin Newsom will have 30 days to review the decision.