CARSON CITY — A 67-year-old man who became one of the longest-serving inmates in Nevada history after he was convicted of murdering a woman at a Lake Tahoe casino in 1971 has been released from prison.
Michael Anselmo spent 47 years behind bars. His Nov. 1 release came more than a decade after a Nevada Supreme Court justice who previously prosecuted him as Washoe County district attorney recommended he be given the possibility of parole.
Anselmo initially was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole in 1972 in the killing of a 22-year-old co-worker at Cal Neva Lodge at Crystal Bay on Tahoe's north shore.
His sentence was commuted in 2005 at the urging of Justice Bob Rose to allow for possible parole.
Rose told fellow members of the Pardons Board that, in those days, a convicted murderer could expect to serve 20 to 30 years.
"After 34 years, Michael has paid for his crime," Rose said then.
The Nevada Supreme Court ruled in 2010 that he did not have a constitutional right to parole. He was finally granted parole for the murder charge in June 2018 but remained imprisoned to complete his sentence for a 1976 escape attempt.
Anselmo was 19 when he grabbed Trudy Hiler as she left the Cal Neva Lodge, where she was working to earn money for college.
Anselmo, the son of a Las Vegas newspaper editor, had just started working at the club as a busboy after serving eight months in jail for unlawful use of a credit card.
He said he found Hiker's nude body hidden under a rock ledge near the casino. Police said she had been stabbed a dozen times and strangled.
Anselmo told authorities during questioning that he acted while under the influence of a large amount of LSD, but later denied the killing during his trial. He acknowledged it again after the state Pardons Board denied a clemency request in 1990.
He told the board that he was sorry for his crime and that he had turned his life around while in prison by getting an education and holding responsible inmate jobs.
His lawyer said he had tried to escape from prison because his father was dying and he wanted to see him.
Anselmo said he came from a good family but started having problems with the law after the accidental drowning of his 18-month-old brother in a neighbor's pool. Anselmo, who was 9 at the time, said he blamed himself because he had been told to watch the child.
The Nevada Appeal reports the only remaining inmate who has served longer than Anselmo is 75-year-old Thomas Lee Bean.
He is serving life without parole for the murder of Olympic skier Sonja McCaskie in her Reno home. He was convicted in 1963 and has served 56 years.