Crime

August 8, 2014

Modesto man denied parole in deadly dispute over ex-girlfriend

A Modesto man convicted of murder in a dispute over his ex-girlfriend has been found unsuitable for parole.

A Modesto man convicted of murder in a dispute over his ex-girlfriend has been found unsuitable for parole.

Thomas Odell Coke used a .303 caliber World War I rifle to shoot James Dudley Walton on Dec. 20, 1977, at a Ceres trailer park. Prosecutors have said Coke was jealous because his teenage girlfriend had left him for Walton.

At a June 23 parole hearing, Deputy District Attorney Randy Fischer argued against parole. The prosecutor said Coke, now 55, has failed to reform and poses a danger to society if released. Coke will be eligible for another parole hearing in five years.

Since his 2009 parole hearing, Coke was convicted of two counts of possessing a weapon in prison and was sentenced to an additional six years prison in August 2010. Coke has been incarcerated for 36 years.

Walton was a Marine who had recently returned to Ceres when Coke shot him in the chest, prosecutors said.

Coke confronted Walton and his former girlfriend as they walked in the trailer park. A witness said he ducked behind a trash bin when he saw Coke raise the rifle. A shot rang out, and the witness looked up to see Walton on the ground.

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