Robert Wieghard, convicted of murder in 1982 Boulder case, seeking release on parole

  • In US
  • 2021-10-23 03:22:00Z
  • By Daily Camera, Boulder, Colo.

Oct. 22-Robert Wieghard, who was convicted of murdering a worker at a Bennigan's restaurant in Boulder in the early '80s, will once again have a parole hearing next month after a ruling was deferred last year.

Wieghard was sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole after 20 years after being convicted of first-degree murder for robbing and then shooting Henry Pfau Callahan, 24, at Bennigan's in 1982.

Wieghard, 66, is currently serving his sentence at Fremont Correctional Facility just outside Cañon City, according to the Colorado Department of Corrections.

Wieghard applied for release last year, but a ruling was deferred for a year and he is now set for a hearing on Nov. 1.

Boulder District Attorney Michael Dougherty said his office will once again be opposing Wieghard's release.

"Given the horrific crimes he committed and the danger he presents to the community, his release at this time would be a serious mistake and a threat to public safety," Dougherty said.

Wieghard was on parole for a previous weapons charge on June 23, 1982, when he shot and killed Callahan during a late-night robbery during which he demanded money at gunpoint, according to police. Callahan surrendered, raising his hands and complying with his demands, but Wieghard shot Callahan in the head.

Wieghard was on the run for about a month before being arrested. A Bennigan's waitress identified Wieghard in a line-up, and while he was awaiting trial, Wieghard offered another inmate in the Boulder County Jail $3,500 to kill the woman who identified him, prosecutors said.

Dougherty said the nature of the murder combined with attempting to take out a hit on a witness made this a "particularly egregious and horrific case."

"It was incredibly brutal, and I cannot imagine the trauma and the impact to the victim's family," Dougherty said, adding that the witness also opposes Wieghard's release for fear of her safety.

Jay Callahan, Henry Callahan's brother, said he and his family also will once again be opposing Wieghard's release.

"He's a life-long criminal, and he'll be a criminal when he gets out," Callahan said. "He should have gotten 40 years at least or true life in prison. He needs to stay there."

Callahan said he was disappointed that the parole board simply deferred the hearing for a year instead of five years, as they had in the past.

"It appears we are going to have to do this every year, it's just something we have to do," Callahan said. "We need to keep this guy in prison. It gets emotional but it has to be done."

Dougherty also said he was surprised the hearing was deferred only a year.

"I think its unfair that the victim's family have to go through a parole hearing just a year later," Dougherty said. "Not much has changed but the trauma to have to go through this whole experience again, to have to gear up for the parole hearing, to have to go through the traumatic experience of talking about this event and how it's impacted them again... I was really disappointed the decision was only to defer for one year."

Dougherty also said he felt the Callahan family was not given enough time to present their thoughts at last year's hearing.

"I was very disappointed in how it was handled by the parole officer last year," Dougherty said. "They gave Jay and the family very limited time to present to the parole board, and it's obviously an incredibly important decision. I appreciate greatly that the parole board has agreed to give them more time this year."

Jay Callahan said he sometimes catches himself wondering if his brother's death was his fault, as he was the one who convinced his brother to take the job at Bennigan's and was not there the night of the murder. He said he had considered visiting the restaurant that night.

But, he said, then he remembers who it was that made the decision to pull the trigger and take his brother's life.

"I've often wondered if it was Henry's fate to die young," Callahan said. "But I decided it wasn't really his fate, it was Wieghard's fate he was finally going to kill somebody."


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