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Released by: District Attorney
For Immediate Release

Parole Denied for Man Convicted of 1991 Murder of Woman in Downtown Petaluma

Santa Rosa, CA  –  April 26, 2017  –  The request for parole by fifty-four-year-old California Department of Corrections inmate Byron James Tibbals was denied yesterday, Tuesday, April 25th, after a hearing at the California State Prison in Soledad. The hearing was conducted by the Board of Parole Hearings. Tibbals was sentenced on March 4, 1994, to life in prison without the possibility of parole after a jury returned verdicts of guilty on charges of first degree murder, penetration with a foreign object, and a special circumstance of rape with a foreign object. The jury also found “true” separate enhancements for infliction of great bodily injury and use of a deadly weapon. The charge of penetration by a foreign object and the special circumstance were later reversed on appeal, and the murder charge was reduced to second degree murder, thereby making him eligible for parole after serving a lengthy prison sentence.

The murder occurred November 20, 1991, after the victim, 36 year-old Eileen Marie Souza, had spent some time with the defendant at a local tavern. Her body was discovered in a large trash dumpster behind two adjoining businesses on Petaluma Blvd. in Petaluma, California. Her body was found soaked in blood with numerous blunt force trauma injuries, apparently inflicted during the course of a sexual assault. The victim was a resident of San Pablo, California. She had come to Petaluma to stay with her mother who lived just off Petaluma Boulevard, near the crime scene. She spent most of the day drinking alcohol, and was last seen at a downtown bar in Petaluma late at night, shortly before the murder.

District Attorney Ravitch stated, “This was a senseless and brutal murder. We are pleased that the Board agreed with our conclusion that this individual should remain incarcerated in state prison.”

The Board of Parole Hearings issued a three year denial, meaning the inmate will be eligible to re-apply for parole in three years. A prior parole hearing in 2013 also resulted in a denial. Deputy District Attorney Juliette Hyde attended the hearing on behalf of the Sonoma County District Attorney’s Office.


Contact Information

Joe Langenbahn
Media Coordinator
Office of the District Attorney
County of Sonoma
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Room 212 J
Santa Rosa, CA 95403
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