|For Immediate Release
June 20, 2013
|Susan Kang Schroeder
Chief of Staff
PAROLE DENIED THREE YEARS FOR DUI DRIVER WHO MURDERED OFF-DUTY DETECTIVE IN 1987 BY CRASHING INTO HIS VEHICLE
SANTA ANA – The Board of Parole Hearings (Board), California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation denied parole for three years yesterday, June 19, 2013, for an inmate convicted of murdering an off-duty detective by crashing into his vehicle while driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol. Richard Gene Gonzales, 63, is currently being held at California State Prison, Solano in Vacaville. The case was originally prosecuted by then-Deputy District Attorney Thomas Goethals.
Deputy District Attorney Matt Lockhart appeared alongside family members of the victim to oppose Gonzales’ parole. Gonzales was found guilty in a court trial of second degree murder and sentenced Dec. 5, 1988, to 15 years to life in state prison.
The victim’s daughter spoke before the Board and asked them not to release Gonzales based on his lack of insight into the crime and his substance abuse problems. She also stated that this month marked three anniversaries involving her father which included the anniversary of his murder, his birthday, and another Father’s Day spent without him.
The Board denied Gonzales parole after determining that his insight into the murder is superficial and recommended he continue to get self-help and spend more time exploring the issues of his substance abuse and the triggers that would cause him to relapse.
Murder of Detective Christopher Spurney
At approximately 7:00 p.m. on June 10, 1987, Gonzales, then 38 years old, consumed at least six cans of beer, snorted cocaine, and smoked marijuana while he was at a friend’s home celebrating a birthday party. At approximately 10:30 p.m. that evening, Gonzales was driving southbound on the Interstate 405 approaching Sand Canyon Avenue. Gonzales was driving in the far right lane and veered left across all lanes of traffic over the center median and slammed head-on into a vehicle being driven by 44-year-old, off-duty Huntington Beach Police Department Detective Christopher Spurney.
Paramedics arrived to the scene and found the victim pinned inside his overturned car and determined him to have died from massive head trauma and internal injuries due to the impact of the crash. California Highway Patrol officers arrived and arrested Gonzales at the scene and determined he had a blood alcohol content of .14 percent at the time of the crash.
Lack of Insight, Rehabilitation, and Threat to Public Safety
Until recently, Gonzales never participated in any self-help, therapy, or educational programs, despite several opportunities to do so.