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District Attorney

Posted on: October 13, 2021

Murdered Returned to Prison to Resume Serving His Life Sentence

Sonora, California – Tuolumne County District Attorney Cassandra Jenecke announced today that on September 3, 2021, the Board of Parole Hearings (BPH) denied parole to Inmate Victor Munoz and ordered him to resume serving his 15 years-to-life sentence at the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitations. This sentence resulted from his 1991 convictions of second-degree murder and second degree robbery. Munoz was first paroled in 2011 after serving twenty years, but was quickly recommitted to state prison in 2012 for a new conviction. Despite that new conviction, the Board of Parole Hearings again paroled Munoz in 2015. However, Munoz was recommitted again in 2019 after violating his parole. 

Inmate Munoz’s 1991 convictions stem from an incident in March of 1990 where he and his brother “Butch” engaged in a fight with family acquaintance Mr. Manuel Gonzales. During the fight, Butch picked up a large piece of wood and repeatedly struck Mr. Gonzales’s head with it.  As Butch struck Mr. Gonzales, Inmate Munoz took some change and documents from Mr. Gonzales. Inmate Munoz’s then encouraged Butch to continue striking Mr. Gonzalez with the piece of wood. Butch continued striking Mr. Gonzales until Mr. Gonzales fell unconscious. Inmate Munoz and Butch then fled the scene and left Mr. Gonzalez lying on the ground. Butch returned later that evening and dragged Mr. Gonzales’s body into some nearby bushes. He removed Mr. Gonzales’s wallet, cash and jewelry. A few days later, Tuolumne County deputy sheriffs discovered Mr. Gonzales’s body. The body was wearing only a pair of underwear around its ankles. An investigation revealed that Mr. Gonzales died as a result of multiple head blows. On July 17, 1991, Inmate Munoz pled guilty to one count of second degree murder and one count of second degree robbery. He was sentenced to a life term of 15 years to life by the Tuolumne County Superior Court.

On July 7, 2011, Inmate Munoz was granted parole and released to the community.  Less than one year later, on June 18, 2012, he engaged in a pursuit with a Calaveras County deputy sheriff after he failed to yield for a traffic stop. The pursuit ended when Inmate Munoz lost control of his motorcycle and crashed. Inmate Munoz was convicted of one count of evading a police officer and was recommitted to the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

On September 24, 2015, Inmate Munoz was once again granted parole and released to the community. In 2019, Munoz sustained a parole violation for use of methamphetamine and was ordered into a residential treatment program. While at the program, Munoz attempted to manipulate a urinalysis test. When confronted, Munoz fled the program and absconded parole supervision. Once he was brought back into custody, he was committed to the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation for his parole violations. His 2019 return to prison required the Board of Parole Hearings to determine whether Munoz should be recommitted on his life-term offense.

On September 3, 2021, the Tuolumne County District Attorney’s Office – represented by Deputy District Attorney Norma De Santiago – appeared via video conference and opposed a grant of parole for Inmate Munoz. De Santiago emphasized Inmate Munoz’s poor performance during his two prior grants of parole and highlighted Inmate Munoz’s failure to demonstrate any accountability for his conduct and the lack of a real plan to address Inmate Munoz’s substance-abuse and impulse control issues.  Ultimately, De Santiago argued that Inmate Munoz posed an unreasonable and great risk to public safety based on his underlying convictions and inability to remain crime-free when granted parole.

After 30 minutes of deliberation, the Board of Parole Hearings agreed with the District Attorney’s Office and determined Inmate Munoz was unsuitable for parole and recommitted him as a life-term inmate. The Board indicated Inmate Munoz lacks insight into his offenses, continues to struggle with substance-abuse and anger issues and poses a high risk to public safety. Because Munoz was recommitted as a life-term inmate, state law requires he receive a parole consideration hearing every 12 months after his recommitment.

Munoz has also petitioned for resentencing under Penal Code section 1170.95 and Senate Bill 1437 alleging that his conviction for murder should be vacated under the new felony-murder rules. The People are opposing that petition, which is pending before the Honorable Donald Segerstrom and is set for further hearing on November 19, 2021, in Department 4 of the Tuolumne County Superior Court.

For More Information Contact:

Norma De Santiago, Deputy District Attorney

Phone: (209) 588-5450

 

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