Murderer denied parole
A man who murdered a father and son at the top of Moon Mountain Road in 1975 was denied a bid for parole on Thursday.
William Barton, who was 19 at the time, pled guilty in 1976 to the murder of Sabino Sotelo, 43, and Sotelo's 16-year-old son, Gregorio. Barton received two consecutive sentences of five years-to-life in the killings.
According to Index-Tribune reports from 1975, Barton and four other people met the Sotelos at a bar on Grand Avenue in Santa Rosa on March 23, 1975. One of the people in Barton's party borrowed a car so they could take the Sotelos somewhere and rob them. On the way from Santa Rosa to Sonoma, the party stopped to buy gas and beer.
When they reached the end of Moon Mountain Road, at the Martini Vineyard where the Sotelos worked, Barton reportedly told the elder Sotelo that they needed more money. Sotelo told Barton that he didn't have any more money at which point Barton ordered him out of the car. The elder Sotelo reached down to pick up a beer, and Barton told him to put the beer back.
Barton then shot the elder Sotelo four times with a .22 caliber handgun. The younger Sotelo got out of the car and was also shot by Barton. When one of the members of Barton's party noticed that the teen still had a pulse, Barton shot him again.
One of the other members of Barton's party then took the teen's wallet and the $20 it contained.
The bodies were found the next day.
After the killings, Barton fled to Texas where he surrendered to authorities in August 1975.
During a preliminary hearing in September 1975, Sonoma County Municipal Court Judge James E. Jones labeled Barton "an animal and should be exterminated."
The outburst by the judge gave the defense an opportunity to file for a change of venue. It was granted and the trial was moved to Stockton.
Then District Attorney Gene Tunney said he would seek the death penalty. But the matter never went to trial as Barton pled guilty to two counts of first degree murder 12 days before the trial was supposed to start in February 1976.
Barton, who has been less than a model prisoner, appeared at his parole hearing at Folsom. According to District Attorney Jill Ravitch, since his last parole hearing, Barton has picked up three serious conduct violations including indecent exposure to a corrections officer, assault on a corrections officer and fighting with another inmate. Altogether, Barton had accumulated 140 misconduct violations during his imprisonment.
"The community will remain safe from this double murderer for at least another seven years with the parole board's decision," Ravitch said. "William Barton's senseless shooting of a man and his teenage son over a trivial dispute, compounded by his continuing offenses while in custody, demonstrated his serious public safety risk if released."