Date: July 16, 2015
INMATE’S PAROLE DENIED FIVE YEARS FOR 1977 SHOOTING–MURDER OF MAN AND SEVERE INJURY OF WOMAN IN LA HABRA HOME
*This case was originally prosecuted by District Attorney Tony Rackauckas
SANTA ANA – The Board of Parole Hearings (Panel), California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation denied parole for five years for an inmate convicted of the 1977 shooting-murder of a man and severe injury of the victim’s fiancée at the couples’ home in La Habra. Maurice Thompson, 70, is currently being held at California State Prison, Solano in Vacaville. Thompson was found guilty by a jury of first degree murder on Dec. 31, 1977. Thompson was sentenced in 1978 to receive the death penalty, but the sentence was reduced to seven years to life in state prison with the possibility of parole after the state Supreme Court dismissed the robbery and burglary circumstances of the case. This case was originally prosecuted by now District Attorney Tony Rackauckas.
Assistant Head of Court Susan Price of the Appellate and Training Unit, along with the victim’s family attended the hearing to oppose Thompson’s parole. Price also attended Thompson’s last parole hearing at the prison in 2012, where the inmate received a 3-year denial. The Panel took into consideration the People’s argument about the inmate’s lack of concrete parole plans, the violence of the crime, the inmate’s familiarity with the victim’s family, and his inability to follow the rules in a structured prison environment. Thompson will be eligible for his next parole hearing in 2020.
Murder of Michael Whalen and Severe Injury of Jane Doe
On the evening of Nov. 14, 1977, Thompson, then 33 years old, followed Jane Doe home from a bar in La Habra. Thompson entered the home, went upstairs, and forced Jane Doe and her fiancée, Michael Whalen, to walk downstairs at gunpoint. Thompson shot both victims multiple times then took Jane Doe’s car keys and drove away in her vehicle. Paramedics arrived at the scene to render aid to the victims. Whalen was pronounced dead at the scene and Jane Doe was taken to La Habra Hospital with critical injuries to her spleen, gallbladder, and lung. Thompson was arrested two weeks later by the Orange Police Department and was found to be in possession of the murder weapon and the victim’s vehicle. Thompson continued to deny his involvement in this crime.
Unreasonable Risk of Danger to Public Safety
Thompson has not taken responsibility for the crime and continues to deny having any involvement in the crime. Since his incarceration, Thompson has failed to take advantage of the available programs in the prison, and has committed several prison rules violations which include being involved in a prison escape plan and being convicted of conspiracy to escape custody.
The inmate has an extensive criminal background, including an arrest for a murder committed prior to this case. The inmate has failed to follow the rules in a structured prison setting and his pattern of misconduct while in prison and lack of insight into his actions demonstrates that he still poses an unreasonable risk of danger to society and will not be released.
“The circumstances of the brutal murder of Michael Whalen and the severe injury imposed on his fiancée, along with the inmate’s lack of remorse and responsibility and failure to take advantage of prison programs are all reasons that Thompson should not be released. Had Thompson committed the murder under the current provisions of the law, he would have been eligible to receive life in state prison without the possibility of parole. Thompson continues to pose a significant threat to the community, and should be continually denied parole,” stated District Attorney Rackauckas.