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Orange County District Attorney opposes violent murder/rape convict's parole

July 27, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
The Orange County District Attorney's Office announced Wednesday it would opposed the parole of a Mule Creek State Prison inmate convicted in 1976 of kidnap, rape, murder, robbery, high-speed pursuit and police standoff.

Gilbert Lovato, 53, is scheduled for a Thursday morning parole hearing. He was convicted in 1981 and sentenced to life in prison for his 1976 crime spree, which included first-degree murder.

In December 1976, Lovato committed a "violent" crime spree, according to the OCDA. He and an accomplice stole two motorcycles, robbed a storekeeper at gunpoint for cash and briefly kidnapped a woman. He later committed another kidnapping, then raped and murdered the victim.

On Dec. 17, 1976, Lovato kidnapped a 22-year-old woman and her 2-year-old son at approximately 10:30 p.m. as the woman drove to a bank. Lovato took the woman and her son in her van to an isolated San Juan Capistrano hideout. He then raped the woman and shot her in the head in front of her son.

Lovato left the dead woman and her son on the highway, where they were discovered two days later. The boy survived.

Lovato then fled to his home town in New Mexico in the stolen van. Santa Fe officers spotted Lovato, who fled, leading to a high-speed pursuit. He fired three shots at police during the pursuit, which ended at a restaurant where Lovato barricaded himself and held patrons hostage. He eventually surrendered to a SWAT team.

After sentencing and incarceration, Lovato has accumulated 25 prison rules violations since then. He escaped a Las Vegas mental institution in 1977 and returned to California, where he was apprehended.

According to the OCDA's office, Lovato actively participated in a violent sexual attack on a jail inmate. He later attempted to murder a fellow inmate with a sharpened nail.

Lovato struck a corrections officer unprovoked in 1987, injuring the officer.

The OCDA's office released part of a letter sent to the court to oppose the parole: "The inmate has poor institutional behavior ... and has not achieved the progress expected of someone who has remained institutionalized for over 33 years. The inmate was admonished since his first parole hearing in 1989 to develop a marketable skill or upgrade vocationally and participate in self-help. In 33 years of incarceration, the inmate has done neither."

Orange County Deputy District Attorney Israel Claustro will appear at the hearing to oppose Lovato's parole, the office said Wednesday.

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