Behind Bars: Convicted murderer breaks silence in exclusive interview ahead of chance for parole
The gunman behind a deadly robbery in Ridge is speaking out in an exclusive prison interview ahead of his first chance up for parole.
Nearly 30 years ago, 26-year-old Dennis Folk was shot and killed by Matthew Svanberg while he was working the night shift as a gas station attendant in Ridge.
News 12's Senior Investigative Reporter Tara Rosenblum sat down with Svanberg at the Woodbourne Correctional Facility in Sullivan County.
Dennis is one of several dozen prisoners sharing their story with the Turn to Tara team as part of an upcoming special report on rising gun violence across the tri-state area.
"The values that I grew up with, counter to everything that...I did that day," he says.
Svanberg went from being raised by an upper-middle-class family on Long Island to inmate 00a5433 with 25 years to life prison sentence.
"My life took a dramatic change when I had a bad car accident when I was 17 years old," he says. "I got 360 stitches across my face. I lost my eyelid."
He says at the time, he was insecure and used drugs and alcohol to build his confidence level. He says it got to a point where his family threw him out of the house, and he lived on his own in an abandoned house.
Svanberg says that's when he started burglarizing small businesses to fuel his drug addiction. This landed him at the gas station in Ridge after a long night of partying.
"I went into the store, and I yelled at the guy to give me the money, and the guy turned around and charged towards me, and when he charged towards me, I panicked and fired the gun and I took his life," he says.
Svanberg admits he feels regret about the 1993 incident.
"I know I should never have put them through trial. I should have took a responsibility from the minute it happened, and I feel horrible for it," he says.
Folk's family told News 12 that the agony they feel now with Svanberg's first parole hearing approaching is just as intense as it was the day they lost Folk.
"The whole thing is scripted," said Folk's brother.
"He's lying," said Folk's mother. "All he thinks about is himself, and the way he gets him out of jail is to say he's sorry."
Folk's mother says it's something she will never get over.
Folk's younger brother even started a petition that already has 1,000 signatures, urging the parole board to keep Svanberg behind bars.
"The system is totally broken," says Folk's brother.
The state Corrections Department tells News 12 a decision on Svanberg's parole will be made within two weeks.