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SAN LUIS OBISPO — A Corcoran man who murdered his wife and daughter and shot police was denied parole Tuesday, Kings County District Attorney’s officials said.

At the California Men’s Colony state prison in San Luis Obispo, a two-panel Parole Board denied parole for 69-year-old Jose Rivera of Corcoran.

In 1994, Rivera pled guilty to first degree murder with a firearm, and a charge of second degree murder.

On March 26, 1993, in the city of Corcoran, officials said Rivera, then 44 years old, shot his wife and 13-year-old daughter multiple times each following an argument.

When authorities arrived, Rivera began shooting at responding officers from the Corcoran Police and Kings County Sheriff’s SWAT team.

One Sheriff’s sergeant was shot in the chest area, and survived due to the fact that he was wearing a bulletproof vest. Another sergeant, Dean Morrow, was also injured when he was struck in the hand by a shot fired by Rivera.

Due to his refusal to surrender and continual shooting at officers and deputies, Rivera was shot and wounded during the exchange of gunfire. Officials said he continued to fight with arresting officers, even after being subdued.

Rivera received a sentence of 44 years to life in state prison and just became eligible for parole this year.

Retired Avenal Police Chief Jack Amoroso, who is now the director of the Police Academy and Training Program in Hanford, was the sergeant who was shot in the chest.

Amoroso attended the hearing and provided an impact statement to the board, detailing the brutal murders and subsequent attack on law enforcement officers.

Amoroso, who was a 14-year law enforcement veteran at that time, had been working at the Sheriff’s Office for about 5 years.

He said he had been involved in two shootouts before, once during his time with the Sheriff’s Office and once previously during his time at the Hanford Police Department. However, he had never been shot before.

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“It was life altering,” Amoroso said.

The bullet struck Amoroso about an inch away from the end of the vest. Years later Amoroso lost a law enforcement friend to a gunshot, so he said he knows that one inch could mean the difference between life and death.

Amoroso said attending the parole hearing was a unique experience.

The first thing he noticed when Rivera was sworn in was a few missing fingers on his right hand — a consequence of the shootout.

Amoroso said Rivera made excuses on the stand, blamed his wife for the incident and said he shot his daughter by accident. Amoroso said the violent and disturbing incident was no accident, as he personally saw that both victims were shot multiple times.

More so, Amoroso said Rivera showed no remorse for his actions and even lied when he told the board that he shot at officers because they were in plain clothes.

Amoroso was able to give closing arguments and address each of Rivera’s claims, which he said the parole board saw right through.

“It was more emotional than I thought it would be,” he said, adding the experience brought back some difficult memories of the gunfire and close calls.

Assistant District Attorney Phil Esbenshade also attended the hearing on behalf of the Kings County District Attorney’s Office and said he argued that Rivera lacked insight into the reasons for the life crimes, that Rivera has not rehabilitated, had no viable parole plans, and that Rivera continued to pose an unreasonable risk of danger to the community if paroled.

The two-commissioner board agreed and denied Rivera’s request for parole. He will be eligible for another parole hearing in three years.

Amoroso said he believes Rivera should do every minute of the time he was sentenced to. He said he will be there again when Rivera is up for parole in another three years.

Kings County District Attorney Keith Fagundes said his office “will continue to fight against the release of dangerous criminals into our community or any other.”

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The reporter can be reached at 583-2423 or jzavala@hanfordsentinel.com

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