UTAH STATE PRISON — A man who has so far served 26 years in the Utah State Prison for murdering his girlfriend and unborn child and was once told by the Utah Board of Pardons and Parole to serve his entire life sentence is now seeking a chance at parole.
Calvin Shane Myers was 21 when he lured Irene Christensen — who was 18-weeks pregnant at the time — to Rockport Reservoir on Dec. 2, 1994, and repeatedly stabbed her in the chest and throat, killing both Christensen, 20, and the unborn baby. Her body wasn't discovered until a week before Christmas by snowmobilers.
Myers was originally charged with two counts of capital murder and faced a potential death penalty. He pleaded guilty to one count of aggravated murder as part of the plea deal and was ordered to serve life in prison, but with a possibility of parole.
During his original parole hearing in 1996, the pardons board ordered Myers to serve his entire life sentence. In 2006, he requested a redetermination hearing but was denied.
But in 2017, Myers made another request for a redetermination hearing and was granted a hearing on Dec. 29, 2020.
During the 40-minute hearing, board chairwoman Carrie Cochran noted that Myers, now 47, has not had a disciplinary write-up since 2002 and has not had a single positive drug test since being in prison. In addition, Myers has completed 25 life skills classes, 32 educational classes and has earned an associate degree, a bachelor of arts, and an MBA and a master's by taking online college courses.
But Cochran also told Myers that she was unsure if all his success while incarcerated could outweigh the "horrendous offense that's difficult to overlook," and said it would be a hard balancing act for the full five-member board to consider.
When asked to recount the days leading up to the murder, Myers said he was dealing with anxiety, depression, was using alcohol to "hide from his problems," and was arguing with Christensen constantly.
"We had a lot of problems, both individually and as a couple," he said in a recording of the hearing.
Myers said at that time he had "way too much ego" and wouldn't allow himself to ask anyone for help, even his family.
"I wish I would have asked for help, I wish I would have included my family in the problems that I was having and let them help. Because that in itself would have stopped this crime from happening," he said.
At first, Myers said when he talked about killing Christensen to a friend, "it started out as a joke — a stupid thing that immature people say. And after a while, it just had to stop, the anxiety and the arguing," he said.
On Dec. 2, 1994, Myers said he needed his stress and anxiety to stop, so "I chose to kill her.
"Made about the worst decision possible. The people I was supposed to protect are the ones who got hurt," he said.
A medical examiner testified that the woman's head "was practically pulled off" by the force of at least seven knife wounds to her neck and an ear-to-ear slash across her throat. She had also been stabbed repeatedly in the chest.
Myers said he didn't know for sure at that time whether his girlfriend was pregnant, thinking maybe she had made up the pregnancy as a way of manipulating him. Six months after the killings, Myers said he named his unborn son Leroy.
"It was the only thing I could do for him at that time," he said while choking up.
Myers said he estimated his son would have been born around May 1, a day that he now marks every year as his son's birthday.
"I think the worst part to my crime was that she died afraid and alone and that my son never had a chance, He was never born. He never had a chance to live or find out who or what he could be," he said.
One of the classes Myers has taken while incarcerated was learning about how his crime affected more than just the deceased victims. It also affected everyone from their families to the boy who found their bodies to his friend whom he borrowed the knife from and was with at Rockport Reservoir that day.
"He was pretty freaked out by the whole thing. I don't think he really expected me to do it," Myers said.
But it was after a previous parole hearing when Christensen's aunt addressed the board that Myers said he decided to change. He said it was "devastating" to see the pain he had caused them. At that point, Myers said he was still undecided whether to just accept prison for the rest of his life or make changes to give himself a shot at parole one day.
He said he chose to be a better person, which is why he has had no disciplinary write-ups for 18 years. Myers was also thankful for the support of family over the past two decades, and knows they could have just given up on him.
"My absolute miracle," he called his family. "They've had my back forever and they always will."
In his closing comments, Myers expressed his remorse to Christensen's family.
"I want them to know the depth of my sorrow for my choices, my actions. I've tried to live since then as well as I can. Try to make some small reparation for what I did to them. I am truly deeply sorry for what I caused."
The full five-member board will now decide whether to grant parole.