Former Ceres resident Christopher Scott Towler, 61, was found suitable for parole during a State Board of Parole hearing held Oct. 10 at the state prison in Solano.
Despite the objections from the District Attorney's Office and the victims' family, Towler was granted parole. Unless Gov. Jerry Brown overturns the ruling of the two commissioners, Towler will be released in approximately five months.
Deputy District Attorney Jeffrey Mangar strenuously argued for Towler's continued confinement based on the callousness of the murders of which he was convicted and the risk to public safety should he be released.
On Feb. 14, 1986, brothers Joe Flores, 29, of Turlock, and Gilbert Flores, 27, of Modesto, were found dead in a peach orchard in Ceres. Both bodies contained numerous gunshot wounds from three different guns. An autopsy revealed that Gilbert Flores was shot eight times in the skull and torso; Joe Flores was shot twice in the back of the head and twice in the torso.
Detectives learned that Towler was affiliated with the Hells Angels outlaw motorcycle gang where he proudly earned his nickname, "The Devil." Towler believed that the Flores brothers had burglarized his friend's home and were "peddling" the stolen property. Towler confronted the brothers and drove them to an orchard. Despite the Flores brothers' pleas that they weren't involved with the burglary, Towler killed them both. He then told two cohorts who were present that they also had to shoot the victims so they would be equally responsible. Afterwards, Towler and his acquaintances drove to a nearby bar to drink beer.
In 1987, Towler was convicted of two counts of second-degree murder with use of a firearm and sentenced to life in prison. He had been previously convicted of second-degree murder in 1978 after he killed a witness who had previously testified against him in a narcotic sales case. Towler received a six-year prison sentence for that crime and was paroled in 1982, only to then reoffend by committing the double murder in 1986. Even while in the prison, Towler was disciplined in 1989 for manufacturing alcohol. In 1993, he was disciplined for having a positive urine sample which contained an unauthorized prescription pain medication.
Relatives of the victims appeared at the parole hearing and asked that Towler not be released. He said they are troubled that Towler has been making motorcycle related "dark art" under his gang monicker "The Devil" and they say it shows that he still maintains connections to the motorcycle gang.
A prison psychologist gave an opinion that Towler was at a "moderate" risk to reoffend if released back into our community. Towler's version of the murders had always been inconsistent with the facts presented in the trial, and he has been criticized by previous parole panels for both minimizing his involvement and denying his role.