Orange County District Attorney
Tony Rackauckas, District Attorney
401 Civic Center Drive West
Santa Ana, CA 92701
For Immediate Release
Susan Kang Schroeder
PAROLE DENIED FOR MAN CONVICTED OF 1970 EXECUTION-MURDER OF FRIEND WRONGLY BELIEVED TO BE DRUG “SNITCH” TO POLICE
SANTA ANA – The Board of Parole Hearings, California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitations (Board) denied the parole today of a man who was convicted in 1970 for the execution-style murder of a friend he wrongly believed had given information to police about him selling drugs. Robert Eugene Williams, 58, is currently being held at Mule Creek State Prison in Ione, CA. Williams pleaded guilty to the court Jan. 28, 1971, to one felony count of first degree murder and one felony count of conspiracy to commit murder and was sentenced to life in state prison. Former Orange County Deputy District Attorney Robert Chatterton originally prosecuted this case. Williams’ will be eligible for his next parole hearing in 2014.
Before denying the inmate’s parole, the Board took into consideration the facts of the case, Williams’ drug and alcohol abuse, and lack of plans to reside at a live-in rehabilitation facility upon being released.
Deputy District Attorney Israel Claustro appeared at the hearing to oppose Williams’ parole on behalf of the Orange County District Attorney. During the hearing, letters submitted by the victim’s family and law enforcement opposing the release of Williams were read before the Board.
Anita Lester, the victim’s sister, writes in her letter that “[her] family is still in pain due to the murder of [her] brother, Robert Hermann. I continue to live in fear of Williams being released and strongly urge that he never be paroled.”
Huntington Beach Police Department (HBPD) Chief Kenneth Small writes, “Robert Williams has not accepted full responsibility for killing Robert Hermann. He has not shown remorse for the murder. Robert Williams poses a threat to society if released. The Huntington Beach Police Department opposes any parole or any type of leniency for Robert Williams. Williams should serve his entire sentence for killing Hermann.”
Facts of the Case
In the evening of Nov. 7, 1970, Williams, then-18 years old, went to a female friend’s house, co-defendant Martha Riggs. He asked to borrow Riggs’ father’s .22 caliber pistol to murder 18-year-old Robert Hermann, a friend he wrongly believed had “snitched” to police that he was selling drugs, which had led to his arrest a month earlier. The inmate then armed himself with the firearm and went to Hermann’s home. He gained entry because Herman trusted him as a friend. Once inside the victim’s room, even after Hermann denied telling police about Williams’ drug transactions, the inmate shot him one time in the shoulder. He then put a pillow over Hermann’s face and fired the fatal second shot into the victim’s head before fleeing the scene.
After the murder, Williams went back to Riggs’ house to return the gun and bragged about murdering Hermann. At approximately 10:00 p.m. that evening, the victim’s parents returned home to find their son bleeding from his head due to the gunshot wounds inflicted by the inmate and called 911.