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Ceres killer denied parole
Ione State Prison is where Ceres murderer Thomas Coke will remain behind bars now that he has been denied parole. - photo by Contributed to the Courier

Thomas Odell Coke, 55, formerly of Modesto, was found unsuitable for parole at a June 23, 2014 hearing of the State Board of Parole Hearings in Ione, California.

Coke is serving a life sentence for this murder and has been in custody for 36 years. He was found unsuitable for parole at the hearing, but will be granted another parole hearing in five years.

Deputy District Attorney Randy Fischer appeared at the hearing and against parole based upon Coke's failure to reform and the danger he poses to society if released. The board agreed.

Coke was convicted of murdering James Dudley Walton of Ceres on Dec. 20, 1977. Walton, 20, was shot in the chest by Coke with a rifle as a result of a longstanding feud between the victim and Coke over the affections of Mildred "Cha Cha" Britt, who at the time was 16 and had two children by Walton.

The shooting took place near space 26 at the Cottonwood Trailer Park just outside the Ceres city limits. After the fatal shot, Coke allegedly turned to Britt and asked her if she still loved him. She didn't answer and Coke fled. He was captured the next day at a friend's house on Sam Avenue in south Modesto.

Since his last parole hearing in 2009, Coke was convicted of two counts of prisoner in possession of a weapon and was sentenced to an additional six years prison in August of 2010.