Lodi News-Sentinel

Newsom reverses parole decision for man involved in murder of Modesto couple

- Kristin Lam

Gov. Gavin Newsom on Friday reversed the state parole board's decision and ordered the getaway driver in the 1979 killings of a Modesto couple to remain in prison.

The reversal comes after the family of Kathy and Phillip Ranzo again made public pleas against parole for Ronald Anderson, who was convicted with three other men for their murders.

The board found Anderson suitable for parole in December, but in his letter Friday, Newsom wrote that he still poses a danger to society. In 2017, thenGov. Jerry Brown also overturned a parole decision for Anderson.

"I have concluded that Mr. Anderson must do additional work before he can successful­ly manage the challenges he will face if allowed to parole," Newsom wrote in his reversal letter. "I encourage him to deepen his self-awareness and understand­ing of his triggers, and to continue to develop safe release plans to ensure his success on parole."

Anderson was 18 years old when he acted as a lookout while Marty Spears, Jeffrey Maria and Darren Lee killed and robbed the Ranzos, The Bee previously reported. The men pretended their car ran out of gas and asked to use the couple's phone in their Modesto home.

Spears stabbed the couple to death, prosecutor­s have said, and also raped Kathy Ranzo. Once Maria and Lee exited the house with cash and jewelry, Anderson drove them to another location before returning to get Spears.

Anderson has been incarcerat­ed for about 43 years and Newsom wrote he has made rehabilita­tive efforts, including developing vocational skills and taking college classes. But Anderson also has minimized his role in the crimes, Newsom wrote, and also inconsiste­ntly reported facts.

At a 2021 hearing, Anderson denied hogtying another home invasion victim, despite admitting the action previously. Anderson and his partners tied up Leonard Luna and robbed the house the day before they targeted the Ranzos, The Bee previously reported.

The state board will schedule Anderson a new parole hearing within 18 months of his last hearing.

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