Today, the district attorney offices of Orange and Riverside counties tag-teamed to help stop a 54-year-old man from being paroled for the rapes and murders of his stepmother and a friend's mother when he was 17.
California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation's Board of Parole Hearings ultimately denied the release of Gregory Coates, formerly of Rubidoux and now of the California Men's Colony in San Luis Obispo.
Coates, who doused one victim's body in gasoline and set it on fire, will next be eligible for a parole hearing in 2021.
On Jan. 22, 1975, Coates burglarized the Riverside home of Jean Marie Stephens, his friend's 37-year-old mother, in an attempt to steal and sell firearms. When she discovered him in the home, he knocked her down with a dumbbell, raped her and bit her stomach over her screams for help. Using one of the stolen guns, Coates then shot her twice in the head, murdering her. The woman's 11-year-old daughter later found her mother's nude, battered body in a pool of blood.
On May 4, 1975, Coates raped his 48-year-old stepmother Betty Coates in her Orange County home before bludgeoning and suffocating her to death, wrapping her body in towels, dousing her in gasoline and setting her on fire.
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He claimed his stepmom reluctantly agreed to have sex with him, and that he killed her because she threatened to tell her father about the tryst. The jury did not buy it, convicting him of rape and murder in October 1975.
Meanwhile, the ongoing murder investigation later linking Coates to the earlier Riverside crimes, which a Riverside County jury convicted him of committing in June 1976. As a 17-year-old at the time of the double rapes/double murders, 1975-76 sentencing guidelines drew him a sentence of 12 years to life in state prison.
Today, Deputy District Attorney Matt Lockhart, expressing the wishes of Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas, and Deputy District Attorney Judy Beck, on behalf of her boss, Riverside District Attorney Paul Zellerbach, appeared before the parole board to oppose Coates' release. The prosecutors were joined by several members of Stephens' family as there are apparently no living relatives of Betty Coates.
In denying Coates' parole, the board cited his continued failure to accept responsibility for the rapes, lack of credibility due to inconsistent versions of his crimes over the years, and the threat posed to women if released, according to a statement from the OCDA.