Their loved ones were murdered and the killer is behind bars, but the fight is far from over for some victims' families. They find themselves every few years fighting against parole.
This year we've covered the high-profile case of David Owen Brooks, an accomplice of Dean Corll, a serial killer known as the "Candy Man," who killed 28 boys in the Houston area in the 1970s.
Brooks was up for parole and was denied. Thanks to a law passed in 2015 for capital murder offenders, it will be 10 years before his next parole hearing, but KHOU 11 Investigates discovered it's rare for prisoners to get the decade set-off.
"As a mother, I don't want another mother to have to go through it," said Gilda Muskwinsky, whose daughter, Raynell, was murdered in 1984.
In Muskwinsky's eyes, there was no one more beautiful than her daughter.
"She was so pretty, and I know all mothers say that, but she was pretty," her mother said.
Raynell’s killer, Steve Wayne Figueroa, went to prison.
Every few years, Muskwinsky still fights his parole.
"Every time they come up for parole, it just kinda puts you back to day one," Muskwinsky said.
A new law was supposed to make it easier for victims. In 2015, Texas lawmakers passed House Bill 1914, which gave the the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles the power to push back parole hearings up to 10 years. However, KHOU 11 Investigates obtained records showing the board rarely uses the max.
In fact, only 9 percent of the time do offenders actually get the 10 years; the majority received five years or less.
"I just felt like I got sucker punched," said Andy Kahan with the Houston mayor's office of Crime Victims Assistance.
Kahan is a victim's rights advocate who helped craft the bill.
"I was not a happy camper when I saw how many of them were receiving three years, because that was not what the bill was intended for," he said.
A spokesman for Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles declined an on-camera interview, but sent KHOU a statement:
"Texas statute and not the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles determines when an offender is eligible for parole consideration. Before rendering a parole decision, careful consideration is given to the totality of the information available. Factors considered include, but aren’t limited to: Seriousness/Nature of the offense; Criminal history; Length of time served/Sentence length; Adjustment during previous periods of parole/Probation supervision; Number of incarcerations and institutional adjustment; Victim input; Support input; Other arrests; and Age. It is important to point out the decision of the Board Member and/or Parole Commissioner regarding parole determinations, which includes the length of set-off (provided it is within statutory limits), is a discretionary decision.
HB 1914 provided the Board of Pardons and Paroles an option of up to a 10 year set-off for offenders convicted of certain offenses. This House Bill did not mandate 10 year set-offs, otherwise it would defeat the purpose of even considering and offender for parole release. Since its inception the Parole Board has utilized the 10 year set-off on those eligible offenders determined appropriate for this set-off, particularly those with egregious offenses.
Capital Murder offenders are eligible for a 10 year set-off provided they have the appropriate time remaining on their sentence. There are offenders with a Capital Murder conviction that do not have 10 years remaining on their sentence, thus cannot be given a 10 year set-off. Additionally, the Parole Board often requires an offender complete a treatment program along with a period of supervision in lieu of an offender serving their entire sentence. In making those decisions, in some cases, it is not possible to provide a maximum set-off along with treatment and a period of parole supervision."
Muskwinsky believes her daughter’s killer should fit that category.
"I thought he would at least have gotten five (years)," she said. "I think you're failing us."
We asked a spokesman for the parole board specifically about Muskwinsky’s case. No specific reason was given as to why the killer got three years instead of 10.
On the Texas Department of Criminal Justice's website, the explanation under Figueroa's parole review information listed is "nature of the offense."
His next parole review will be in November of 2019.