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Aptos murderer denied parole for fourth time

Posted: Thursday, Sep 13th, 2007

Kenneth Luther, who was convicted of killing 24-year-old Joe Vomvolakis in Aptos in 1986, will not receive parole this year, Santa Cruz County District Attorney Bob Lee announced Wednesday.

Luther was denied release on parole for the fourth time by the Parole Board at the Correctional Training Facility in Soledad, Lee reported. Luther’s incarceration was extended for two more years.

Luther has been in custody since he was arrested May 11, 1986, after killing Vomvolakis the day before. Luther was convicted of second-degree murder for killing Vomvolakis.

Lee described the incident from 21 years ago. Vomvolakis caught Luther attempting to steal an equalizer from Vomvolakis’ girlfriend’s Jeep. Vomvolakis ordered Luther out of the Jeep and gave chase.

“As a football player who had just received an athletic scholarship to Hayward State, Vomvolakis was sure to catch up to Luther,” Lee reported. “Rather than be apprehended for attempted theft, after about 90 yards, Luther turned and fired three shots at Vomvolakis. He hit him from a distance of between 2 and 10 feet two out of the three times he fired.”

Vomvolakis was hit in the abdomen and just behind the ear. Each wound would have been independently fatal, Lee said.

Luther continues to deny that he intended to shoot or kill Vomvolakis, despite striking Vomvolakis two of the three times that he fired, and the jury’s verdict of second-degree murder which required that they unanimously find that Luther intended to kill Vomvolakis, Lee said. Again in his statement to the Parole Board, Luther stated that he did not remember the crucial time period between just before the shooting and his arrest, despite remembering the adjoining time periods reasonably well, he said.

The hearing was attended by Nick and Norma Vomvolakis, Joe’s parents, as well as Joe’s brother, Chris Vomvolakis.

Asked for reaction, Assistant District Attorney Celia Rowland said, “When people who are incarcerated, especially those who murder people, do not demonstrate any insight into why they did what they did and take responsibility for, and are honest with themselves about, what they did, the community is not safe with those people on the streets.”


(Published in 9/13/07 edition)

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