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Shooter in execution-style slaying could be granted parole

POSTED November 2, 2017 4:06 p.m.

A Ceres man who was convicted in a 1986 murder of two brothers over stolen property was found suitable for parole during a State Parole Board hearing, despite the objections of the Stanislaus County District Attorney’s Office.

Christopher Scott Towler, 61, was found suitable for parole at the Oct. 10 hearing, however, his case will still have to be reviewed by parole officials and signed off by the Governor’s Office, which can decide to overturn, modify or grant the parole.

Towler was convicted in 1987 of two counts of second degree murder with a firearm for the deaths of Joe Flores, 29, of Turlock and Gilbert Flores, 27, of Modesto.

The bodies of the two brothers were found riddled with bullets in a peach orchard in Ceres. The autopsies revealed Gilbert Flores had been shot eight times in the head and torso, while Joe Flores had been shot twice in the back of his head and twice in the torso. Three different guns had been used in the shooting.

Towler, who was affiliated with the Hells Angels and went by the nickname “The Devil,” suspected the two brothers had burglarized the home of an associate and were selling the stolen property.

Towler confronted the two brothers and forced them at gunpoint to drive out to the orchard, where despite their pleas of innocence, Towler executed them both, according to the district attorney’s office.

Towler was accompanied by Rudy Milan Blanusa and Ed Haro and ordered them to each shoot the brothers, so that they would be implicated in the deaths as well. They also were convicted of second degree murder and sentenced to prison. Both have since been released on parole.

According to the prosecution, the three men went to a bar and drank beer after committing the double murder.

Towler had a previous conviction of second degree murder for a fatal shooting in 1978. In that case, Towler shot a witness who had testified against him in a drug sale case. He received a six-year sentence and was paroled in 1982.

While in prison Towler was disciplined for manufacturing alcohol in 1989 and testing positive for unauthorized prescription pain medications in 1993.

At the parole hearing, Deputy District Attorney Jeff Mangar argued for Towler’s continued confinement, based on the “callousness of the murders and the risk to public safety.”

The family of the Flores brothers appeared at the hearing and told the parole board they were troubled by the fact that “Towler had been making motorcycle related ‘Dark Art’ under his gang nickname ‘The Devil,’” according to the prosecution. They believed this showed Towler still maintained connections to the motorcycle community that he was involved with at the time of the murders.

The prosecution pointed to a psychologist’s opinion that Towler was at a moderate risk to reoffend if released back into the community.

“Towler’s version of the crime has always been inconsistent with the facts of the case, and he has been criticized by previous Parole Boards for minimizing his responsibility for the crime and denying his true level of involvement,” the district attorney’s office stated in a news release.

California parole officials have 120 days to review the case and send it to the Governor’s Office, where it can be revoked or granted. The Governor’s Office also can send the case on for a full review by the state’s Parole Board commissioners.

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