For Immediate Release
Susan Kang Schroeder
OCDA TO OPPOSE PAROLE OF INMATE CONVICTED OF EXECUTION-STYLE MURDER OF MAN IN STORE PARKING LOT
SANTA ANA – Orange County District Attorney (OCDA) Tony Rackauckas is opposing the parole of an inmate who committed an execution-style murder in broad daylight in a busy store parking lot. Leonel Duarte, 48, is currently being held at California State Prison, Solano. Duarte was found guilty of one felony count of murder with a sentencing enhancement for the personal use of a firearm and was sentenced to 29 years to life in state prison. The case was originally prosecuted by then-Senior Deputy District Attorney Deborah Lloyd. Duarte is scheduled for a parole hearing on Dec. 5, 2012, at 8:30 a.m. before the Board of Parole Hearings, California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. Senior Deputy District Attorney Brett Brian will appear to oppose parole.
Circumstances of 1994 Murder
On Feb. 17, 1994, Duarte, then 29, started an argument with an acquaintance, Oscar Serrano Miramontes, 39, in a busy store parking lot. During the argument, Duarte shot Miramontes once in the chest and twice in the back of the head. Witnesses heard the gunshots and then saw Duarte walk away to his car holding a firearm. Miramontes was found face down in a pool of blood. Another witness followed Duarte from the scene and saw him wipe down the firearm and discard it about three blocks away. The firearm had five empty cartridges and one live round of ammunition in the cylinder. When Duarte was arrested later that day, police found a bag containing cocaine and heroin on the front seat of his car.
Threat to Public Safety
Duarte has been incarcerated since 1995, yet he has done little to progress towards parole suitability and has not remained disciplinary free while incarcerated. Duarte has sustained four major disciplinary actions for possession of a weapon, battery on an inmate, battery on an inmate without serious injury, and theft of state property. He has also received a prison violation for leaving class without permission.
Duarte has failed to accept responsibility for his actions. He has given two different versions of his commission of the murder. When confronted about the differences, Duarte said he was told by someone to lie during his initial interview with the police, though he would not say who advised him to do that. Duarte has repeatedly said that his sentence is unfair and has refused to provide any information into his motive for the victim’s murder.
Based on his lack of remorse, failure to assume responsibility for his actions, and continuous violations while incarcerated, he poses an immediate threat to society and should not be released.