The photo of Austin Ross released when he was still missing. Photo courtesy Riverside County Sheriff’s Department

Kacee Lloyd Monroe, 34, who was convicted in 2004 for the Nov. 19, 2001, second-degree murder of his friend Austin Ross, both 16, and both Pine Cove residents, has been denied parole by Gov. Gavin Newsom.
On Oct. 2, 2018, a two-commission parole board recommended parole for Monroe, serving time in the Avenal State Prison since July 13, 2004, and incarcerated from his arrest in November 2001.
Austin died of blunt-force trauma to the head and was buried in the woods. Monroe was tried as an adult and sentenced to serve 16 years to life. He has now served 17.
During his time in prison, Monroe has participated in self-help programming, including criminal thinking, anger and stress management, and Criminals and Gangmembers Anonymous. He earned his GED and is currently working toward an Associates of Arts degree, according to Newsom’s reversal.
Monroe was given a Grant of Parole Suitability during a hearing on Oct. 2. The board questions attorneys, witnesses and maybe the inmate. They determine the suitability based on the inmate’s comportment in prison and work skills. Can he/she take care of and support themselves? If so, they will be more stable outside prison.
More importantly, they determine if the inmate will or will not continue to be dangerous to society.
Then begins a 150-day process from when the recommendation for parole was made.
The first 120 days is a review of the hearing by parole board staff to ensure everything was handled correctly, all the appropriate questions were asked, etc. If all seems correct, the recommendation goes to the governor’s office.
The governor has 30 days to either uphold the recommendation, reverse it, send it back for review, modify it or take no action (in which case, parole is granted).

Kacee Lloyd Monroe in about 2000. Photo courtesy Riverside County Sheriff’s Department

In this case, Newsom reversed the commission’s decision.
“Although Mr. Monroe has now given a more accurate description of the crime in 2018, he has yet to sufficiently explain why he inflicted such violence on his victim,” Newsom wrote in his reverse decision signed Feb. 1. “He told the board that he ‘lost it’ and that the pinned up anger from childhood was unleased on the victim … I find it troubling that when Mr. Monroe discusses this crime, it comes across as being an impulsive act — this is simply not true. It is clear Mr. Monroe lured the victim out to the woods under false pretenses and bludgeoned him to death.”
The murder occurred after Monroe believed Austin had broken into his bedroom to steal a gun Austin had recently sold him. Monroe confronted Austin but Austin denied it.
Monroe then asked Austin to help him bury some stolen items in the nearby Pine Cove woods.
Riverside County Sheriff’s Department activated a search for Austin when he did not return to his Pine Cove home. A few days later, Monroe led them to the woods where Austin’s body was found lying next to a bloody axe handle. An autopsy showed Austin received about 15 blows to his head, and died from blunt force trauma.
“When considered as a whole, I find the evidence shows that [Monroe] currently poses an unreasonable danger to society if released from prison,” Newsom concluded.
Austin’s family, who have testified at Monroe’s parole hearings, could not be reached for comment.
Monroe’s next Parole Suitability Hearing is tentatively scheduled for April 2020.