California Governor Denies Parole for 1979 Murder Accomplice
By DON THOMPSON, Associated Press
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Gov. Jerry Brown on Monday denied parole for one of four men convicted in the 1979 killing of a Modesto couple.
A parole panel recommended in December that Ronald Ray Anderson, 57, be freed nearly four decades after the slayings of Phillip and Kathryn Ranzo.
Anderson cannot be safely released back into society, Brown said.
Anderson stayed outside while three friends hog-tied the Ranzos, beat and fatally stabbed them. Marty Spears raped Kathryn Ranzo while the other two ransacked the house
Brown called the crime "merciless."
"While it is clear from the record that Mr. Anderson tried to dissuade his crime partners from robbing the Ranzos, and that he did not know the two victims were being killed, it is also clear that he voluntarily joined Mr. Spears to commit this robbery despite knowing of the group's propensity to hogtie and beat their victims," Brown wrote.
Anderson, who was 18 at the time, testified at his parole hearing that he joined his friends at the last minute, one day after he and several others tied up, beat and robbed a different homeowner.
Anderson said he smoked marijuana and acted as a lookout during what he called the "horrendous, heinous, atrocious" murders of the Ranzos.
He said Spears gave him $96.
The attack was "nothing more than a thrill killing — a sadistic act of extreme evil," state Sen. Cathleen Galgiani said in a letter asking Brown to block Anderson's parole.
Because of his age, parole officials were required by state law to heavily consider his immaturity at the time, and decided he participated in part because of peer pressure.
Sandy Ranzo said her brother "was being a Good Samaritan" when he tried to help the young men who came to his door pretending to have run out of gas. He was a pharmacist and his wife owned a hair salon.
"They were just an up and coming young couple, 29 just about to turn 30, with a 10-year-old son," she said a news conference in April with Galgiani, Stanislaus County District Attorney Birgit Fladager, and the couple's son, Mark Ranzo.
Anderson is in California Correctional Institution in Tehachapi and was previously denied parole nine times from his 25 years-to-life sentence.
and stole $2,000, a shotgun and two diamond pendants.