|For Immediate Release
October 2, 2012
|Susan Kang Schroeder
Chief of Staff
OCDA TO OPPOSE PAROLE OF INMATE CONVICTED OF SHOOTING AND MURDERING THREE VICTIMS IN 1977
*Co-defendant in this case is scheduled for a parole hearing in 2014
SANTA ANA – Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas is opposing the parole of an inmate who shot and murdered three people in 1977. Brett Matthew Paul Thomas, 53, is currently being held at the Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility, San Diego. He pleaded guilty to the court on Oct. 17, 1977, to three felony counts of first degree murder with a sentencing enhancement for the personal use of a firearm. Thomas was sentenced to three life terms in prison and eligible for parole in 1984. If convicted today on all of the charges, based on the facts, the inmate would have received a maximum sentence of the death penalty or life without the possibility of parole.
Thomas is scheduled for a parole hearing this afternoon, Oct. 2, 2012, at 1:30 p.m. at the prison before the Board of Parole Hearings, California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitations. Senior Deputy District Attorney Jim Mendelson and Lynette Duncan, the surviving daughter to one of the victims, will appear together with the victim advocacy personnel to oppose parole.
Circumstances of 1977 Murders
On Jan. 21, 1977, Thomas, then-18 years old, and Mark Wayne Titch, who was then 17 years old, attempted to burglarize the home of 20-year-old Laura Stoughton. The inmates kidnapped the victim when she returned home then shot and murdered her at a dump site in Orange. Her body was recovered laying in a fetal position clutching a rosary.
At approximately 7:30 p.m. on Jan. 24 1977, Thomas and Titch went to a drive-in dairy store in Garden Grove and attempted to rob the cashier. Thomas was not able to get any money and shot the cashier in the head before driving away with Titch from the scene.
On the night of Jan 29. 1977, Thomas and Titch attempted to rob Aubrey Duncan on the front driveway of his home as he was carrying a bag of money after his shift at work. Thomas shot the victim in the back with a shotgun and murdered him on his front doorstep. The victim’s wife, Nadine Duncan, was shot by Thomas as she opened the door after hearing the gunshot. Aubrey Duncan was taken to the hospital and treated for three gunshot wounds and 187 shotgun pellet wounds.
A stray pellet struck the victims’ daughter, 18-year-old Denise Duncan, in her chest as she was standing behind her mother. Denise Duncan was taken to the hospital and died approximately an hour and a half later from the gunshot wound. The inmates drove away from the scene.
On February 1977, California Highway Patrol Officers arrested Thomas and Titch near Victorville inside a stolen car.