UPDATE, JULY 26, 9:46 A.M.: The parole hearing for Odon Borja began as scheduled Monday afternoon, but it was later stopped due to a glitch with the recording equipment.
The hearing was subsequently
postponed to a new date
that has yet to be set, according to the Orange County District Attorney's office.
ORIGINAL POST, JULY 25, 1:10 P.M.: Orange County Deputy District Attorney Heidi Garrel is scheduled
to roll into Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility in San
Diego later this afternoon to oppose the parole of a man convicted of
killing a laborer in a Cypress strawberry field in 1986 over a family,
cross-border, bloodbath feud.
The California Department of
Corrections and Rehabilitations' Board of Parole Hearings is scheduled
at 3 p.m. to consider the release of Odon Borja, 56 and formerly of Cypress.
But Garrel will argue that Borja has displayed a lack of remorse, that he's undergone a lack of rehabilitation, that he possesses a capability to commit another violent crime and that, above all, he should not be
The trail of the crime extends back to December 1983 when the brothers of Borja and Gumaro Pineda got into a heated argument during a festival in Acapulco, Mexico. Later that night, Borja's three brothers killed Pineda's three brothers as
they were walking home from the event. A Pineda family friend who witnessed the murders was later killed, as was Borja's
father–all within a week of the original slayings.
Fast forward to three years later, in Orange County, where Odon Borja, then 30, was drinking with his cousin Juan Cruz Torres. The 22-year-old cousin urged Borja to avenge his father's death by killing another Pineda 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 laborer Gumaro 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.
The 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
Edward Munoz was the deputy district attorney who prosecuted the original
case, but it will be up to Garrel to sway the parole board with this evidence, according to an Orange County District Attorney's office statement:
Borja has not utilized therapy programs or taken up a vocation while
incarcerated. The inmate has failed to show true insight into his crime,
exemplified by his denial that he was under the influence of alcohol
during the commission of the murder. The inmate has also failed to take
full responsibility or show remorse for his crime, expressing at his
2010 parole hearing that his sentence was unfair. Additionally, Borja
has exhibited violent tendencies while imprisoned, being charged with
three major violations for assault and violent behavior.