[UPDATED with Borja Denial:] Odon Borja, Who Killed Strawberry Picker Over Family Blood Feud, and Robert Lee Carney Jr., Who Murdered Teacher for $30, Seek Paroles Today

UPDATE, OCT. 21, 1:16 P.M.: Parole was also denied today for Odon Borja, who is serving a 25 years to life sentence at Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility in San Diego for the 1986 murder of a strawberry picker in a Cypress field over a family blood feud.

Borja, 56, is next eligible for a parole hearing in 2014.

The board denied Borja's parole this morning because he still poses an unreasonable risk to public safety, according to an Orange County District Attorney's office statement.

Our previous update on Robert Lee Carney Jr. also being denied parole today failed to mention that the parole board meeting at Mule Creek State Prison in Ione cited two major rules violations--obstructing a police officer and battery on an inmate--within the past six months by the inmate. That shows Carney is not adequately rehabilitated and continues to pose a threat to society, the board ruled.

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UPDATE, OCT. 21, 10:59 A.M.: Parole was denied today for Robert Lee Carney Jr., who is serving a life sentence at Mule Creek State Prison in Ione for the Dec. 16, 1975, murder of 55-year-old Anaheim High School teacher Gene Henderson.

Carney, 56, is next eligible for a parole hearing in 2016.

ORIGINAL POST, OCT. 21, 8:29 A.M.: Orange County deputy district attorneys are at opposite ends of the state this morning opposing the paroles of a man convicted of slaying a laborer in a Cypress strawberry field over a bloody family feud, and another killer put away for bludgeoning to death an Anaheim High School teacher for $30 (split three ways).

In the first case, Odon Borja had his originally scheduled July 25 parole hearing at Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility in San Diego postponed due to a glitch with the recording equipment. It was re-set for this morning.

Deputy DA Heidi Garrel was originally going to appear before the board in July, but now her colleague Elisabeth McKinley gets the call. Edward Munoz is the former deputy DA who prosecuted the original murder case. See:


Three brothers of Borja and three of Gumaro Pineda got into a heated argument during a December 1983 festival in Acapulco, Mexico, before the Borja clan killed the members of the Pineda clan. A Pineda family friend who witnessed the murders was later killed, as was Borja's father--all within a week of the original slayings.

Three years later, then 30-year-old Odon Borja was drinking with his cousin Juan Cruz Torres in Orange County when the 22-year-old urged Borja to avenge his father's death by killing Gumaro Pineda, who was then working in a strawberry field in Cypress.

The cousins took two weapons, a .38 caliber pistol and a long barrel .22 caliber pistol, with nearly 100 rounds of ammunition and set out the morning of April 17, 1986, for the strawberry field at the southwest corner of Katella Avenue and Valley View Street. They parked on a dirt driveway and walked onto the field, where Torres pointed out 33-year-old Pineda.

Borja called out Pineda's name from less than 15 feet away. When Pineda rose to face him, Borja unloaded the .38 caliber pistol into him. As Pineda lay wounded, Borja walked closer and fired several more times, including the killshot. The cousins then scrammed for their vehicle, but not without first firing their guns into the air and at a crowd of more than 100 workers.

They tried to get away but were pursued by Cypress cops. The chase lasted for about five miles before the pair was caught and arrested. Besides a murder rap, Borja had been driving with a blood alcohol content of .14 percent, which is over the legal limit.

Cypress investigators learned from farm workers what prompted Pineda's slaying. Torres and Borja were convicted in December 1986 of first-degree murder. Borja was sentenced on Jan. 23, 1987, to 25 years to life in state prison.

As they were prepared to do in July, prosecutors will oppose now-56-year-old Borja's parole on grounds that he has displayed a lack of remorse, that he's undergone a lack of rehabilitation and that he possesses a capability to commit another violent crime.
 
Deputy District Attorney Renee Jones traveled to Ione for this morning's parole hearing at Mule Creek State Prison for Robert Lee Carney Jr., who is now a year older than the teacher he killed on Dec. 16, 1975: 55-year-old Gene Henderson.

Then 21-year-old Carney and two others had it in their heads that the Anaheim High teacher kept a lot of money in his apartment. Henderson actually knew one of Carney's cohorts and invited them to his apartment for drinks and conversation. Instead, he was struck in the face with a wine bottle and, when the teacher attempted to get up, Carney took a torque wrench from his pocket and repeatedly hit Henderson in the head until he was dead.

Henderson's blood-soaked home was then ransacked. The robber-murderers' booty? Thirty bucks in change from a jar.

After being convicted of first-degree murder, Carney was sentenced on Aug. 24, 1977, to life in state prison with an additional one year and four months for the sentencing enhancement for the personal use of a deadly weapon. Judge James Turner stated then that Carney should never be released from prison. Had he been prosecuted today, he would have been charged with special circumstances murder during the commission of residential burglary and/or robbery and would have faced a minimum sentence of life in state prison without parole.

Carney's lack of rehabilitation is evidenced by 139 prison rules violations--ranging from threats and assaults to possession of drugs and alcohol--which prove that he will not be able to function in normal society and would present a risk to it, claims the OCDA.

Both parole hearings begin at 8:30 a.m.


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