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Murder victim's family wants CHP officer to stay in prison

December 26, 2011 |  5:40 pm

Sam and Joyce Knott

The family of a San Diego State student killed by an on-duty California Highway Patrol officer in 1986 is leading a letter-writing campaign to the state parole board to keep him in prison.

Craig Peyer, a 13-year veteran of the CHP, was convicted of first-degree murder for strangling Cara Knott after a traffic stop on Interstate 15 on Dec. 27, 1986. She was driving from Escondido to the family home in El Cajon.

Peyer hurled the 20-year-old student’s body off a bridge to the ground, 100 feet below, according to testimony at his trial. He was linked to the killing by DNA and other evidence. The rope used to strangle Knott was found in his CHP vehicle.

At his trial, testimony showed that Peyer had improperly pulled over numerous young women. Peyer did not testify.

Peyer was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison and has been denied parole twice since 2004. His next parole hearing is set for  Jan. 11 at the prison in San Luis Obispo.

In an open letter to the community, the Knott family asserts that changes in state law make it more likely that Peyer might be paroled. The family asks that letters be sent to the parole board.

“The primary consideration for release is whether or not the prisoner is a danger to the public,” the letter said. “If you would be fearful having him free, express those fears!”

Cara Knott’s mother, Joyce, 73, said she will be at the parole hearing. 

Cara's father, Sam Knott, died of a heart attack in 2000 while tending a memorial garden at the site where his daughter’s body was found.


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--Tony Perry in San Diego

Photo: Sam and Joyce Knott at the trial of CHP Officer Craig Peyer, who was convicted of killing their daughter Cara. Credit: Roni Galgano / San Diego Union-Tribune