Modesto man found suitable for parole in deadly Ceres shooting

08/07/2014 6:46 PM

08/08/2014 10:30 AM

A Modesto man has been found suitable for parole after serving 33 years in prison for murder.

John O. Adams was found suitable for parole at a June 10 hearing at Solano State Prison in Vacaville, the Stanislaus County District Attorney’s Office announced this week.

Adams was on parole 34 years ago when he killed a man, which resulted in his murder conviction. Authorities said Adams shot to death James Goff during a confrontation in Ceres.

In March 1980, Adams was on parole for a robbery conviction. Adams admitted at the June parole hearing that shortly after his release from prison in 1980, he began carrying a sawed-off shotgun.

About 7:30 p.m. June 9, 1980, Adams was with Michael Blanusa looking for one of six men who had purportedly beaten up a mutual friend. Having heard where the man could be found, they drove past the Richland Shopping Center in Ceres.

Prosecutors said Adams thought a bystander flipped him off, so Adams got out of the car and punched the bystander twice. Each time, the bystander pinned Adams to the ground twice until Blanusa ordered him to release Adams — the second time at gunpoint.

Adams then went back to his car and pulled out his sawed-off shotgun. When a car drove up, prosecutors said, Adams ran up to the vehicle and pointed the shotgun at the driver’s face.

As this point, Goff intervened and ran up to Adams. Prosecutors said Goff yelled, “Shoot me, if you want to shoot someone; you ain’t got the guts.” They said Adams then fired the shotgun at Goff, killing him.

Adams and Blanusa drove off, but authorities arrested Adams later in Ventura County.

A jury found Adams guilty of first-degree murder with use of a gun, possessing a deadly weapon and assault with a gun. He had prior convictions for robbery and burglary. On Dec. 31, 1980, Judge Frank Pierson sentenced Adams to 28 years to life in prison.

At the June parole hearing, Deputy District Attorney Brad Nix argued against Adams’ release from prison based on the extreme violence in the crime, his ongoing pattern of violence and his diagnosed anti-social personality disorder and alcohol abuse disorder.

Adams claimed at his parole hearing that he has been free of any misbehavior for 31 of the 33 years he’s been in prison. He told the parole board he completed several classes and was trained in prison as an optician.

He also told the board that his problems stemmed from his bad associations as a youth with people who urged him to use violence and from his drinking. Adams said he would not drink or use drugs after his release from prison.

Now, the governor has 120 to 150 days to decide whether to approve the parole board’s decision and order Adams’ release from prison.

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