Brother of slain Buellton man takes issue with recent commutation
Lee Shaw recalled opening an email from former Buellton Police Chief Leland Bentley and he couldn’t believe what he was reading.
In late June, Gov. Gavin Newsom granted 13 pardons and 21 commutations, including a commutation for 60-year-old Louis Calvin, who fatally shot Mr. Shaw’s brother, Wayne, during a road-rage incident in 2005 in Buellton.
Mr. Calvin, who was 45 at the time of the March 2005 incident, was eventually sentenced to more than 32 years in prison, though is now eligible for immediate parole.
The email Mr. Shaw received was a news clip detailing the governor’s pardons and commutations, including the “sincere remorse” Mr. Calvin has expressed for the fatal shooting.
“How do you have remorse for killing somebody, when your plea at the time was self defense?” Mr. Shaw asked during a recent phone interview from his Montana home.
Mr. Calvin has been incarcerated for 15 years. According to the governor’s commutation, during his time in prison, he has participated in self-help programming, earned a vocation, maintained an exemplary disciplinary record and is currently enrolled in college courses.
Mr. Shaw told the News-Press that, after learning of the commutation, “It just didn’t sit right.”
“If you look at the circumstances of what happened and what was left behind — my brother was married with six kids, a business owner, and a very big contributor to the (Santa Ynez) Valley.
“There’s a whole bunch behind it. But kind of the blunt thing is, is murder is muder, I don’t care how you want to put it.”
Mr. Shaw said he has learned things that were not known to investigators at the time of the incident and said he is convinced Mr. Calvin was looking to inflict harm prior to the fatal incident. The shooting took place at the Buellton Town Center, but was preceded by an altercation on State Route 246 between Solvang and Buellton.
According to News-Press archives, on March 16, 2005, Mr. Calvin pulled into the town center following the altercation. Wayne Shaw arrived shortly after and yelled at Mr. Calvin to exit his vehicle. Wayne Shaw, who authorities said was intoxicated, reached into Mr. Calvin’s vehicle and took a swing at Mr. Calvin, who then shot him.
According to Lee, Mr. Calvin was en route to Rite Aid to pick up some medication.
“I think honestly if he didn’t shoot my brother he was going to shoot one of the pharmacists,” Mr. Shaw said, adding that he has done his own investigation into the matter.
“I know my brother, I know us,” he said. “I’m not saying my brother was right… but just watching (Mr. Calvin) in court… the man had no expression on his face the whole time.”
During the October 2006 sentencing, Mr. Shaw said that Mr. Calvin did say a word, and sat emotionless throughout.
“I look at it this way — you’ve got a gun in your car and you’re carrying it and it’s loaded. There’s intent there,” Mr. Shaw said. “I hunt, I target shoot and all of that, but I don’t carry my ammo anywhere near my guns.”
When asked why he thought Mr. Calvin would have shot someone else, Mr. Shaw said, “I believe it could have turned out that way, I don’t know. But you don’t carry a gun around with you that’s loaded for no reason. It doesn’t work that way. That’s the way I feel.”
He also added, “I know my brother’s not the knight in shining armor or anything like that. They say that my brother was under the influence, but of course they didn’t say the alcohol content.”
Mr. Shaw said that Wayne was known to have a couple vodka tonics at a local bar on occasion, but would then return home to be with his family.
“It wasn’t a daily routine,” Mr. Shaw said.
The Shaw family moved from New York to the Santa Clarita Valley in 1967. Wayne then moved to the Santa Ynez Valley, and Mr. Shaw moved there soon after. Mr. Shaw left for a few years and returned in 2000, and moved out of state in 2005.
“My brother had been there probably 10 or 15 years before that with his family,” Mr. Shaw said.
Wayne was a painting contractor and worked on the home’s of many notable people, including Michael Jackson, Steven Seagal, Cheryl Ladd and Bo Derek, among others. When his kids were attending Santa Ynez Valley High School, Wayne would donate the time and paint and help paint the football field. He was also known to man the barbecue at the Friday night games.
“He contributed quite a bit to the valley when he was there,” Mr. Shaw said. “He was really well liked.”
While there have been requests to release some inmates due to advanced age in connection with the COVID-19 pandemic, Mr. Shaw said that Mr. Calvin had been seeking a commutation since late 2019.
Mr. Calvin is now eligible for immediate parole consideration and release upon a grant of parole, which is subject to all applicable review periods.
Mr. Shaw said he intends on writing a letter opposing Mr. Calvin’s parole and is talking with other family members, including Wayne’s wife, Kathy, to send more letters.
“People are human, things happen, but I just don’t think if something like that happens… I’m not saying that they’re not trying to do good or people can’t change their life in there, but I think it’s more than just picking people’s names out of hat and saying, ‘Ok, let’s go and pat him on the back for doing this and doing that and letting them out.’ I just don’t believe that’s a good thing,” said Mr. Shaw.
Mr. Shaw said not once in the past 15 years has Mr. Calvin sent a letter to anyone in the Shaw family.
“How is he showing remorse?” Mr. Shaw asked.
“There’s really nothing that (Mr. Calvin) could say… it’s already done,” Mr. Shaw said, when asked what he would want to hear from Mr. Calvin. “My brother is dead. There was no explanation, all it was was ‘road rage.’
“There’s really nothing he can say to me now, because if there was remorse like he’s saying, why are you waiting 15 years later? It should have been something right away when this stuff was going down. Or, when he was incarcerated while this is going on, why was there no letter of remorse then? That’s when you think he would… know that (Wayne) had a wife with six kids. That’s when you think he would say sorry. But nothing all this time. I just don’t buy it.
”There’s really nothing he could say to me at all.”