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Turlock murderer denied parole for beating, stabbing Modesto couple

POSTED April 4, 2013 6:35 p.m.

A Turlock man, who was convicted of a brutal double murder as a 17-year-old, was denied parole for multiple reasons, including his continued threat to public safety.

Jeffrey Maria, now 51, was convicted on June 6, 1980, of two counts of first-degree murder, two counts of robbery, residential burglary and use of a knife during the commission of the crimes. He was sentenced to life without parole as a 17-year-old. After an appeal, the court resentenced him to 52 years to life. He has served 33 years in prison.

According to court records, Maria, along with three other individuals, planned a home invasion robbery of Philip and Kathryn Ranzo’s Modesto home. After planning the robbery while in a parked car outside of the house, the four knocked on the Ranzos’ door under the guise of being out of gas. They asked to use the telephone, but once inside they overpowered the couple.

The Ranzos were tied up, beaten, stabbed and murdered. Kathryn Ranzo was also raped before being bludgeoned and stabbed to death. The four then left with cash and jewelry.

The Ranzos’ death orphaned their only child, Mark, age 10, who had been staying at his grandmother’s house that night, according to the Stanislaus County District Attorney’s Office.

In 2006, Maria was also convicted of attempted escape from Solano Prison and was sentenced to 16 months in prison to be served concurrently.

At the parole hearing Sandy Ranzo-Howell, Phillip Ranzo’s sister argued for the maximum possible period of denial of 12 years. She stated that her family was “robbed of a father, mother, aunt, uncle, brother, sister and son.”

“The Ranzos were never able to celebrate the joys of their son’s life which included two granddaughters,” Ranzo-Howell told the parole board.

Ranzo-Howell stated her brother was a “good Samaritan and he would have given them money for gas if asked.”

In her testimony at the hearing, Ranzo-Howell said the bat used to bludgeon the couple belonged to their son and had been used just that day during a round of batting practice between father and son and a friend.

Deputy District Attorney Beth O’Hara Owen appeared at the hearing and argued for continued confinement based on the gravity of the offense, serious misconduct while in custody and additional self-help needs. Owen also argued continued confinement was necessary to keep the public safe.

The parole board denied Marie’s parole for five years on March 26. This was his first parole hearing.

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