⚠️⚠️⚠️ WARNING: THIS ARTICLE DESCRIBES DISTURBING SEXUAL VIOLENCE⚠️⚠️⚠️
Charles Eugene Spain has been in the California State prison system for 41 years. In 1981, he was sentenced to 15 years to life for the violent rape and murder of Ukiah woman Charlotte Verducci.
As per a press release from the Mendocino County District Attorney David Eyster, Spain went in front of a parole board for the twelfth time and has been deemed “tentatively suitable for parole”.
Now, the case will move into the 120-day decision review period where the Board of Parole Hearings and finally Governor Gavin Newsom will consider the individual’s suitability to be released from prison.
DA Eyster made a measured yet pointed suggestion to the public after describing the details of the horrific crimes committed by Spain: contact Governor Gavin Newsom and let him know what you think of Spain’s potential release.
DA Eyster provided a troubling summation of Spain’s crimes. On the evening of August 2, 1980, 34-year-old Ukiah woman Charlotte Verducci was found “wandering along a south county roadway by a motorist.” Verducci was taken to Hopland, the nearest town, and when law enforcement arrived deputies saw she was “bleeding from her mouth, and her entire back was caked with blood.” At this point in the investigation, Verducci “ insisted that she was fine and that nothing untoward or criminal had happened.”
Based on her condition, she was taken to the hospital in Ukiah where it was discovered she was covered in bruises on her face, arm, breast, stomach, and most disturbingly “she had suffered a large puncture wound extending from her vagina into her abdominal cavity.”
Verducci suffered “massive internal injuries” due to the puncture wound losing more than “a gallon of blood.” Ukiah Valley Medical Center surgeons attempted to save Verducci’s life but she succumbed to a “trauma-induced heart attack”. Before dying, Verducci told attending surgeons “He (Spain) shoved a billy club up me.”
DA Eyster wrote that previous parole boards have assessed Spain as lacking “insight as to why he committed the offense.” Eyster provided a comprehensive understanding of the factors that are used to determine whether an inmate is suitable for parole such as “previous records of violence”, “prior sadistic sexual offenses”, “signs of remorse”, and an inmate’s insight into their crimes.
DA Eyster provided Mendocino County residents multiple avenues to contact the office of Governor Gavin Newsom, who ultimately has the ability to reverse or modify the parole board’s decision. Eyster wrote, “Given the underlying facts, any interested person who may want to communicate with Governor Newsom in favor of or in opposition to Spain’s proposed release may send respectful correspondence to the Governor…”
The entirety of the recent press release from the Mendocino County District Attorney David Eyster follows:
Denied parole 11 previous times, the 12th parole suitability hearing held Friday, February 25th, ended with a different result for Charles Eugene Spain, age 70, a state prison life inmate currently housed at the California Institution for Men in Chino.
Spain was convicted by jury in 1981 in the Mendocino County Superior Court of unlawful sexual penetration with a foreign object and murder in the second degree of one of his sisters-in-law, Charlotte Verducci., then 34 years of age in 1980 at the time of her passing.
Spain then was sentenced in April 1981 by Judge Timothy O’Brien to 15 years to life in state prison.
As noted in press coverage at the time, Verducci was found wandering along a south county roadway by a motorist the evening of August 2, 1980. The Good Samaritan stopped and gave her a ride to the nearest town, taking her to Hopland where law enforcement was summoned.
On their arrival, deputies saw that the victim was bleeding from her mouth, and her entire back was caked with blood. The victim, however, insisted that she was fine and that nothing untoward or criminal had happened.
Nevertheless, she was rushed to the hospital in Ukiah where it was discovered she had suffered a large puncture wound extending from her vagina into her abdominal cavity. She was also covered with bruises on her face, arm, breast and stomach.
Doctors at the hospital determined that the victim had suffered massive internal injuries and that she had lost more than a gallon of blood after, it was later uncovered by investigators, she had been sexually assaulted by Spain with a small baseball bat.
Surgeons at the Ukiah Valley Medical Center fought for her life but she died from a trauma-induced heart attack the morning after the attack, but not before telling doctors, “He (Spain) shoved a billy club up me.”
In past parole suitability hearings, it was repeatedly found by different parole boards that Verducci was attacked in a “cruel, callous and repulsive manner,” and that Spain continued to lack insight as to why he committed the offense. However, those prior findings have apparently diminished with the passage of time.
As legal background, parole suitability hearings are held to determine if an inmate currently poses an unreasonable risk of danger to society if released from prison. The suitability panel will consider “all relevant, reliable information available to the panel” in determining the inmate’s suitability for parole.
The suitability criteria to be applied to these hearings relies on a number of factors intended to show both suitability and unsuitability for parole. These factors are general guidelines and “the importance attached to any circumstance or combination of circumstances in a particular case is left to the judgment of the panel.”
Evidence tending to show an inmate’s suitability include: (1) lack of a juvenile record, (2) stable social history, (3) signs of remorse, (4) motivation for the crime, (5) lack of criminal history, (6) age, (7) understanding and plans for the future, and institutional behavior.
The panel is required to also consider evidence suggesting unsuitability. The factors of unsuitability include the inmate’s (1) commitment offense, (2) previous record of violence, (3) unstable social history, (4) prior sadistic sexual offenses, (5) psychological factors, including the prisoner’s history of mental problems related to the crime, and (6) institutional misconduct in prison or jail.
Additionally, the California Supreme Court has held that an inmate’s lack of insight is a significant factor in determining whether the inmate is currently unsuitable.
Spain having now been tentatively found “suitable” for parole in the latter years of his life, this decision is now subject to review by the Board of Parole Hearings’ Legal Division and then Governor Newsom before Spain is to be released.
Once a suitability decision is administratively final, generally after the 120-day decision review period, the Governor has statutory authority to review parole suitability decisions.
When an inmate has been convicted of murder, as in this case, the Governor may reverse or modify the Board’s decision without referring it back to the Board for further review.
Given the underlying facts, any interested person who may want to communicate with Governor Newsom in favor of or in opposition to Spain’s proposed release may send respectful correspondence to the Governor at:
Governor Gavin Newsom
1021 O Street, Suite 9000
Sacramento, CA 95814
Letters may also be faxed to the Governor at (916) 558-3160.
Finally, electronic mail is available at here.
If this method of e-communication is chosen, on the pull-down box on the destination page entitled “Please choose your subject:”, use the option “Parole – Governors Review.”
The original prosecutor who presented the evidence against Spain to the jury back in the day was Deputy District Attorney Barry Levy. Spain was defended at trial by Public Defender Scott Le Strange.
Representing DA Eyster at Friday’s “virtual” suitability hearing was Deputy District Attorney Luke Oakley.