|For Immediate Release
November 4, 2011
|Susan Kang Schroeder
Chief of Staff
OCDA TO OPPOSE PAROLE OF MAN CONVICTED OF 1985 BEATING-MURDER OF LIVE-IN GIRLFRIEND
SANTA ANA – Orange County District Attorney (OCDA) Tony Rackauckas is opposing the parole of a man who brutally beat, strangled, and drowned his live-in girlfriend. Gary James Eccher, 56, is currently being held at Avenal State Prison in Avenal, CA. Eccher was convicted by a jury July 11, 1986, of first degree murder. Eccher was sentenced to 15 years to life in state prison Aug. 8, 1986, after the court reduced his conviction to second degree murder. Eccher is scheduled for a parole hearing Monday, Nov. 7, 2011, at 3:00 p.m. at the prison before the Board of Parole Hearings, California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
Senior Deputy District Attorney Rebecca Olivieri and the victim’s sister will appear at the hearing to oppose Eccher’s parole.
Facts of the Case
On Aug. 10, 1985, then-30-year-old Eccher initiated an argument with his 38-year-old girlfriend, Lianne Lando, because she refused to give him more cocaine. During the fight, Eccher brutally beat and strangled Lando with an electrical cord after she refused the inmate’s demands for more drugs. He then carried her into the bathroom and proceeded to submerge the victim’s head and arms under water until she was no longer breathing. Eccher took the victims purse, car keys, a half-pound of cocaine, and $27,000 cash and fled to Mexico. On Sept. 18, 1985, Anaheim Police were notified by Mexican authorities of Eccher’s arrest on suspicion of drug trafficking charges. When initially contacted by police, Eccher stated that his memory of the murder was “somewhat blurred,” but recalled fighting with the victim, choking her with an electrical cord, and submerging her head in bathtub water.
Inmate’s Inability to Rehabilitate and Continued Threat to Public Safety
While incarcerated, Eccher has been cited for three serious prison violations. The inmate’s first serious violation, requiring his prison transfer, was for engaging in over-familiarity with a female staff member. When questioned, Eccher responded apathetically, showing a lack of concern or care for the seriousness of the violation or the difficult position in which he put the staff member. The inmate’s most recent documented violation was for running a gambling operation. Eccher was found in possession of 689 cigarette packs, exceeding the allowable prison limit of 300 packs and numerous betting slips and gambling paraphernalia. Eccher’s criminal record further substantiates his history of drug use and inability to follow the law including a 1980 conviction for driving under the influence and disclosure of five arrests for serving alcohol to minors and informing mental health evaluators of his use of drugs.