PAROLE DENIED FOR MAN CONVICTED OF 1979 MURDER AND ATTEMPTED MURDER OF RESTAURANT EMPLOYEES

Orange County District Attorney
Press Release


Tony Rackauckas, District Attorney
401 Civic Center Drive West
Santa Ana, CA 92701

For Immediate Release







August 11, 2011

Susan Kang Schroeder
Chief of Staff
Office: 714-347-8408
Cell: 714-292-2718

Farrah Emami
Spokesperson
Office: 714-347-8405
Cell: 714-323-4486

PAROLE DENIED FOR MAN CONVICTED OF 1979 MURDER AND ATTEMPTED MURDER
OF RESTAURANT EMPLOYEES

 

SANTA ANA –The Board of Parole Hearings (Board), California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitations, denied the parole today for a man who brutally shot two victims, murdering one. Ruben Gaitan, 54, is currently being held at California State Prison, Solano in Vacaville, CA. Gaitan was found guilty by a jury Dec. 6, 1979, of one felony count of first degree murder, one felony count of attempted murder, and two felony counts of robbery, and was sentenced to 25 years to life in state prison. The case was originally prosecuted by former Deputy District Attorney Paul Meyer. Gaitan will be eligible for his next parole hearing in 2021.

 

Senior Deputy District Attorney Brian Fitzpatrick appeared at the hearing to oppose Gaitan’s parole. The OCDA maintained that Gaitan is a serious threat to public safety because he has failed to rehabilitate, as evidenced by his 47 prison rules violations and a lack of therapy and self-help. Before denying the inmate’s parole, the Board took into consideration the facts of the case, his lack of insight into the crime, lack of understanding of his role in the murder and attempted murder, Gaitan’s prison violations, and his lack of self-help and self-improvement.

 

Facts of the Case

Just before 1:00 a.m. on June 3, 1979, 22-year-old Gaitan and co-defendant Marcelino Ramos entered a Taco Bell restaurant where Ramos worked with the intent to steal money. Gaitan walked in first and placed an order. While the order was being filled by 20-year-old Kathryn Parrott, Ramos entered the restaurant, walked to the front, and began speaking with 19-year-old co-worker Kevin Pickrell. A few minutes later, Ramos pulled out a firearm and pointed it at Pickrell and Parrott. He demanded the victims walk into a freezer and ordered them to give him the keys to the safe. Ramos and Gaitan left the victims in the freezer and one or both of the defendants stole money from the restaurant safe. Ramos then went back to the freezer and instructed the two victims to kneel, take off their caps, bow their heads and “say [their] prayers.” He shot both victims in the back of the head. Parrott died at the scene and Pickrell survived the gunshot wound. Ramos and Gaitan then fled the scene with the stolen money.  

 

Significance of the Case

Gaitan was sentenced to 25 years to life in state prison for the murder and attempted murder. Ramos was sentenced to receive the death penalty. The death penalty verdict was subsequently overturned twice by then-California Chief Justice Rose Bird. Outraged by Bird’s continuous overturning of death penalty rulings, then-Deputy District Attorney Rackauckas founded California for a Responsible Supreme Court in 1980 and Crime Victims for Court Reform in 1984, both statewide groups with the objective to recall Chief Justice Bird. In 1986, Chief Justice Bird, Justice Cruz Reynoso, and Justice Joseph Grodin from the Supreme Court were removed by California voters.  

 

Lack of Rehabilitation and Failure to Take Responsibility

During his incarceration, inmate Gaitan has shown a lack of rehabilitation by accruing 47 prison rules violations, 20 of which are serious violations including over-familiarity toward a staff member, contraband, physical altercation, possession of money, and refusal and failure to work. The inmate also made sexual advances toward a correctional counselor.