Visalia murderer denied parole

Richard Esquivel used the victim as a shield while trading gunfire with a neighbor


VISALIA – A Visalia man serving a life sentence for a 1976 murder was denied parole for at third time last week.

On Sept. 20, 2018, the parole board at the California Medical Facility in Vacaville, Calif. denied parole for Richard Esquivel, 64, of Visalia, for the murder of a man during the course of a robbery. Esquivel received a five-year denial and is not scheduled for another hearing until 2023.

At about 9:20 p.m. on Aug. 8, 1976, Esquivel covered his face with a bandanna and forced his way into a small two-bedroom house occupied by a young family near the Lincoln Oval Park in Visalia. Esquivel pointed a firearm at Jose Vaca while he was in bed and demanded money. Vaca gave Esquivel his pants which contained only 15 cents.

During this time a neighbor saw Esquivel and called police. A second neighbor grabbed his rifle and approached the victim’s residence. Esquivel incorrectly believed the neighbor with the rifle was law enforcement. Esquivel threatened to shoot Vaca and used him as a human shield. When gunfire was exchanged, Vaca was accidentally shot in the chest. He later died from his injuries.

Esquivel fled the scene; however, he was later identified and arrested. Esquivel was found guilty of first-degree murder, kidnapping during a robbery, robbery, conspiracy to commit robbery, and first-degree burglary. He was sentenced to life in prison in 1977.

This was Esquivel’s third parole denial. The District Attorney’s Office routinely attends parole hearings and a senior deputy district attorney argued against the inmate’s release in this case.

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