For Immediate Release
Susan Kang Schroeder
INMATE DENIED PAROLE FOR THREE YEARS FOR 1977 MURDER OF STORE OWNER DURING ROBBERY
SANTA ANA – The Board of Parole Hearings, California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitations (Board) denied parole for three years for an inmate convicted of murdering a food store co-owner and robbing employees at gunpoint. Russell Clyde Capers, 55, was convicted by a jury of one felony count of first degree murder, two felony counts of robbery, and one felony count of burglary. Capers was sentenced Oct. 26, 1977, to seven years to life in state prison. Had Capers been sentenced today, his maximum sentence would have been life in state prison without the possibility of parole. Capers is being held in California State Prison, Solano in Vacaville, CA. The case was originally prosecuted by District Attorney Tony Rackauckas.
Senior Deputy District Attorney Marc Labreche appeared at the hearing April 5, 2013, to oppose parole. The Board denied Capers parole based on contradictory statements he made regarding his gang affiliation in the past. Capers will be eligible for his next parole hearing in 2016.
Circumstances of Robbery and Murder
At approximately 10:45 p.m. on March 2, 1977, Capers, then 19 years old, entered Santa Ana Food Market with two other co-defendants, 16-year-old Tyrone Robinson and 19-year-old Michael Bradley, with the intention of robbing the storeowners and employees. Two of the defendants entered the market armed with sawed-off shotguns. Once they were inside, the defendants ordered the 10 employees into a freezer compartment located in the back of the market. The defendants robbed the male employees and demanded that the victims open the safe. After learning that the safe could not be opened, the defendants locked the 10 employees inside the freezer and left.
The defendants returned a short time later and robbed one of the victims of his car keys and left the market. The defendants returned again a few minutes later asking the victim about operating the vehicle headlights. Robinson then attempted to fire the shotgun at the victims. One of the employees obtained a pistol that was hidden in the freezer and shot at the defendants in order to defend himself. A series of gunshots were exchanged. During the crossfire, 64-year-old co-storeowner How You Lau and her son Ken Lau were wounded. A getaway driver helped the defendants flee from the scene. How You Lau later died in the hospital as a result of her gunshot wounds.
On March 21, 1977, the Santa Ana Police Department arrested Capers.
Lack of Insight, Prison Violations, and Failure to Accept Responsibility
The inmate continues to provide different statements regarding how the crime took place. In 2001, Capers admitted to the Board that he and his co-defendants were planning to rob the market. In 2009, Capers claimed that he knew nothing about the crime and did not want to participate in the robbery, never possessed a weapon, and insisted that he told his co-defendants to stop.