A man convicted of shooting to death a former girlfriend in Angwin in 1979 remains in prison after a Napa County Superior Court judge this summer denied his petition to be released after three decades behind bars.
Randall Maluenda, now 57 and an inmate at San Quentin State Prison, is serving 17 years to life for the second-degree murder of his ex-girlfriend, Holly Ganir, on May 30, 1979, about six months after she broke up with him.
Maluenda had been granted parole in August 2012, a decision Napa County District Attorney Gary Lieberstein opposed.
In January, Gov. Jerry Brown reversed the parole board’s decision, saying Maluenda’s explanations about the crime were “troubling and unpersuasive” and that he remained a danger to society.
Two months later, Maluenda appealed Brown’s decision to the Napa County Superior Court. Among other arguments, Maluenda’s attorney, Kate Brosgart of Berkeley, alleged that Brown’s decision was not supported by relevant, reliable evidence that Maluenda remains a public danger.
In July, Napa County Superior Court Judge Mark Boessenecker sided with Brown. And Maluenda, who first became eligible for parole in 1990, remains incarcerated.
“I think he’s still a danger,” Lieberstein said last week. “I think he still doesn’t get the impact of what he did.”
Brosgart could not be reached for comment.
Holly Beth Ganir, 21, a senior from Hawaii, was about to graduate from Pacific Union College when Maluenda shot her at his apartment on Cold Springs Road in Angwin during the evening of May 30, 1979. Ganir had stopped by Maluenda’s apartment with a new boyfriend. She wanted to say goodbye and retrieve some items before Maluenda moved to Maryland.
Maluenda shot Ganir in his bedroom. She was pronounced dead at the scene. A Napa County Sheriff’s deputy arrested Maluenda that night. Maluenda waived his right to a jury trial and was sentenced in Napa County Superior Court in January 1980 to 17 years to life.
After the breakup with Ganir, Maluenda sent letters to her, threatening to kill her, authorities said in court records. About a month before the killing, Maluenda had been arrested after bringing a revolver to a disco in Santa Rosa, along with a ski mask and a pair of gloves. Engraved on the bullets were the words “To Holly,” “Holly,” and “HG.” Maluenda then lost his job.
Ganir alleged that Maluenda broke into her dormitory room at Pacific Union College to steal photos and other items. He then burned the items and sent the ashes to Ganir.
During his years in prison, Maluenda has stayed out of trouble, according to court records. In 2009, he was among the inmates quoted in a San Francisco Chronicle story about violence prevention.
Maluenda, a law library clerk in prison, was granted parole in February 2012. However, that decision was set aside because the recording device used at the hearing malfunctioned and a new hearing was scheduled for Aug. 12, 2012.
At his hearing, Lieberstein told the board he opposed Maluenda’s release, saying he lacked insight into his crime and that he had planned the crime for months.
Lieberstein cited Maluenda’s “months-long obsession, violent obsession with Holly after she rejected him.”
Ganir’s brother, Al, also spoke at the hearing via videoconference link after Lieberstein’s office contacted him last year.
“My sister is still dead. And unless you can bring her back from the grave, you should still be in prison,” Ganir said at the hearing, referring to Maluenda.
But Brosgart, Maluenda’s attorney, cited Maluenda’s lack of confrontations or aberrant behavior during 33 years in prison.
Her client, she said, had not planned the killing. He was packing to move to Maryland or Washington, D.C., the next day and had no idea Ganir was going to appear at his house that night.
Maluenda has used his time well in prison, not just taking classes and going to self-help groups, but engaging in self-examination, Brosgart said. She also cited psychological reports that concluded Maluenda was a low public safety risk and that the inmate took full responsibility for his crime.
“So there’s certainly no evidence in the record to refute the fact that Mr. Maluenda today is suitable for parole because he does not present an unreasonable risk,” Brosgart said, according to the transcript.
Lieberstein said in an email Friday he will continue to oppose Maluenda’s release if he believes Maluenda still represents a danger to society and continues to lack insight into “why he did what he did.”
According to the California Department of Corrections, Maluenda will be scheduled for another hearing, probably within a year or two.