A state parole board has granted the release of an 82-year-old Modesto man who is serving a prison sentence for killing Franklin Woods Jr. over $4 in a poker game 37 years ago.
It’s unclear to local prosecutors when Matthew Gooch will be released from prison, because that release date is determined later. On Thursday, Stanislaus County District Attorney’s Office spokesman John Goold said the Governor’s Office still has time to consider whether to uphold or overturn the parole board's decision.
The deadly shooting occurred Jan. 3, 1980, at a party in a Modesto home. Prosecutors said Gooch became upset that Woods took the $4 from him, so Gooch went to a friend’s house and borrowed a shotgun.
Gooch returned to the party, opened the door just wide enough to see Woods and fired one shot, according to prosecutors. The gunfire struck Woods in the neck, killing him.
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In the trial, Gooch claimed self-defense. He accused Woods of stealing the $4 from him during the card game. Gooch was convicted of second-degree murder with an enhancement for using a gun in the killing. He was sentenced to 17 years to life in prison and has been in prison for slightly more than 36 years.
At an April 4 parole hearing in Stockton, the victim’s daughter and his grandson spoke about the impact Woods’ murder has had on their lives. Deputy District Attorney Randy Fischer also attended the parole hearing and asked for Gooch to remain in prison because his release would create a threat to the public.
Prosecutors said a recent psychologist’s report indicated that Gooch, in spite of his age, still represented a moderate risk to the public if he was outside a structured prison environment. The parole board disagreed and granted Gooch’s release from prison.