Crime - Sacto 911

Parole denied Woodland man convicted of 1990 slaying

A Woodland man convicted of a 1990 murder near Knights Landing has been denied parole.

A state Board of Parole Hearings panel on Wednesday denied parole for 52-year-old Thomas Branscum during a hearing at California State Prison, Corcoran, according to a Yolo County District Attorney’s Office news release.

On Nov. 27, 1990, Yolo County sheriff’s deputies found the body of 30-year-old Lewis Scholes in a secluded wooded area near Portuguese Bend, one mile east of Knights Landing on the Sacramento River. Fourteen months later, Branscum pleaded guilty to murdering Scholes and was sentenced to 15 years to life in state prison.

During the parole hearing, authorities said, Branscum described events leading up to the murder. He admitted loading a shotgun at his house, then borrowing a friend’s truck. Branscum and his friend drove Scholes to Knights Landing, where Branscum followed him into the woods and shot him three to five times. Branscum stated that he took Scholes’ wallet and threw it in the river with the gun so he would not be identified. To avoid being caught, he replaced the pickup truck’s tires so police would not connect him to the crime.

Branscum reportedly killed Scholes because he felt “disrespected.”

The Yolo County District Attorney’s Office opposed Branscum’s release, arguing that he has refused to take full responsibility for the murder, and citing his anger, alcohol and drug issues as well as his lengthy criminal history.

Branscum will not be eligible for parole until June 2019.

Editor’s Note: Earlier versions of this story inaccurately attributed parole information to the Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office.