|For Immediate Release
May 10, 2011
|Susan Kang Schroeder
Chief of Staff
ORANGE AND RIVERSIDE COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEYS TO OPPOSE PAROLE OF MAN WHO RAPED AND MURDERED STEPMOTHER AND
FAMILY FRIEND IN 1975
SANTA ANA – Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas and Riverside District Attorney Paul Zellerbach are opposing the parole of a man who raped and murdered his stepmother and a family friend in 1975. Gregory Coates, 54, formerly of Rubidoux, is currently being held at California Men’s Colony in San Luis Obispo. He is scheduled for a parole hearing tomorrow, Wednesday, May 11, 2011, at 8:30 a.m. at the Prison before the Board of Prison Terms, California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitations.
Orange County Deputy District Attorney Matt Lockhart, Riverside County Deputy District Attorney Judy Beck, and several family members of Riverside victim Jean Stephens will appear at the hearing to defend public safety and advocate for justice. There are no living relatives of Orange County victim Betty Coates.
Orange County Murder of Betty Coates
On May 4, 1975, Gregory Coates, then-17, raped and murdered his 48-year-old stepmother Betty Coates in her home. After sexually assaulting the victim, he bludgeoned and suffocated her to death and then wrapped her body in towels, doused her in gasoline, and set her on fire. In October 1975, the inmate was convicted of Betty Coates’ murder. During the course of Betty Coates’ murder investigation, police linked Gregory Coates to a Riverside County murder from earlier that year.
Riverside County Murder of Jean Stephens
On January 22, 1975, Gregory Coates burglarized the Riverside home of 37-year-old Jean Marie Stephens, his friend’s mother, looking for firearms to steal and sell. When Stephens discovered the inmate, he knocked her down with a dumbbell, raped her, and bit her stomach throughout the sexual assault as she screamed for help. Gregory Coates then murdered Stephens by shooting her twice in head with the firearm he had stolen from her. The inmate left the victim’s battered, naked body in a pool of blood. She was found by her 11-year-old daughter. In June 1976, Gregory Coates was convicted by a jury for Stephens’ murder.
For both murders, Gregory Coates was sentenced to 12 years to life in state prison based on the sentencing laws of 1975.
Failure to Accept Responsibility and Danger to the Public
Despite the fact that Gregory Coates confessed to his crimes after his arrest for the Orange County rape and murder, he later claimed that he discovered his stepmother naked in her bedroom and she “reluctantly agreed” to have sex with him.