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Entries in Parole (9)

Wednesday
Aug292012

John Lennon's Killer Would 'Probably Stay' in Prison If Granted Parole

New York State Department of Corrections(NEW YORK) -- John Lennon's killer, Mark David Chapman, would "probably stay right where I'm at" in prison even he were released, he told the New York State Board of Parole during an interview to determine if he should be granted parole.

Chapman was denied parole on Aug. 23 for the seventh time. The transcript of the Aug. 22 interview was released Wednesday.

Chapman, 57, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and was sentenced to 20 years to life for gunning down the Beatle outside of his Manhattan apartment complex on Dec. 8, 1980.

For the hearing, he was interviewed by video conference at the maximum-security Wende Correctional Facility in Alden, N.Y.

"I'm so bonded that I could probably assure you that, if released, I'd probably stay right where I'm at," Chapman said. "You know, once you stand on a rock for 20 years and feel the waves on you and you don't go anywhere because you're on a rock, you don't want to move."

Chapman told the interviewer that God had performed a miracle for him days earlier, but he would not discuss the miracle on the record. He did say, however, that "the timing of it and the importance of it, were so great and I cried for half an hour."

He also credited God with changing him from "Mr. Psychopath" to someone the cares about others.

When the parole board officer asked Chapman where he would live if he were released, Chapman said that a New York minister he had corresponded with and met at the prison days earlier had offered him housing and work.

"There's a fellow in Medina, New York, and he's a minister and he's an older fellow and he has a lot of contacts in the area and he has agreed to refurbish his upstairs apartment for me and offered me two jobs," Chapman said.

His first job would be to cut down the minister's diseased ash trees, he said.

Chapman also recounted some of the events leading up to the murder and the day of the shooting.

He was working as a maintenance man months before the crime and signed his name as John Lennon after his last shift.

When the parole board asked him why he had done this, Chapman said, "I remember that distinctly. It was kind of a way of saying -- it was kind of a warning. I didn't think I was John Lennon."

Chapman said he committed the "cold-blooded" crime "simply because [Lennon was] the most famous person I knew of."

He said he had a list of six or seven potential targets, including Johnny Carson, Elizabeth Taylor and actor George C. Scott. Lennon just happened to be the most famous, Chapman said.

"I would like Mrs. Lennon to really know that," Chapman said. "I think it would help somewhat that it wasn't anger. It wasn't anything against her husband as a person, only as a famous person. If he was less famous than three or four other people on the list, he would not have been shot."

Chapman recalled meeting Lennon earlier on the day he shot him. He said the Beatle was kind and patient with him and signed his album for him. After that, Chapman described an "inner struggle" when he debated leaving and abandoning his plan.

"It wasn't all totally cold-blooded, but most of it was," he said. "I did try to tell myself to leave. I've got the album, take it home, show my wife, everything will be fine. But I was so compelled to commit that murder that nothing would have dragged me away from that building."

Looking back, Chapman said he deeply regrets the crime, calling it "a very selfish act" and "absolutely not worth it."

Despite Chapman's regret, the parole board denied his request for parole.

"You shot and killed an innocent victim, an international music star," the New York State Board of Parole wrote to Chapman. "Your actions clearly demonstrated a callous disregard for the sanctity of human life."

The parole board noted that Chapman's record does not have any prior convictions and that they took into consideration his good conduct in prison, educational accomplishments, his remorse, letters of support and "significant" opposition to his release.

But the board decided that "parole shall not be granted for good conduct and program completions alone."

"Therefore, despite your positive efforts while incarcerated, your release at this time would greatly undermine respect for the law and tend to trivialize the tragic loss of life which you caused as a result of this heinous, unprovoked, violent, cold and calculated crime," the board wrote.

Yoko Ono, the wife of the late musician, said in 2010 that she opposed paroling Chapman and believed he could be a danger to her and her family.

Chapman became eligible for parole on Dec. 4, 2000, according to the New York Department of Corrections.

The Department of Corrections released an updated photo of Chapman that was taken on May 15, 2012. Chapman's next scheduled parole hearing will be in August 2014.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Aug232012

John Lennon Murderer Mark David Chapman Again Denied Parole

New York State Department of Corrections(ALDEN, N.Y.) -- Mark David Chapman has been denied parole for the seventh time since his incarceration for the December 8, 1980 murder of John Lennon.

A statement by the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision includes the text of the parole board's Wednesday decision, which notes 57-year-old Chapman's general good behavior and accomplishments while an inmate, as well as "positive presentation remorse, risk and needs assessment [and] letters of support." 

However, the board goes on to say, "...you shot and killed an innocent victim, an international music star. Your actions clearly demonstrated a callous disregard for the sanctity of human life. ...parole shall not be granted for good conduct and program completions alone.  Therefore, despite your positive efforts while incarcerated, your release at this time would greatly undermine respect for the law and tend to trivialize the tragic loss of life which you caused as a result of this heinous, unprovoked, violent, cold and calculated crime."

Chapman was sentenced in 1981 to 20 years to life for Lennon's murder and was first eligible for parole on December 4, 2000.  His next parole hearing is scheduled for August, 2014.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Aug192012

John Lennon's Killer, Mark David Chapman, Scheduled to Have Parole Hearing This Week

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- John Lennon's killer is up for parole this week for a seventh time and could have a hearing as early as Tuesday, officials said.

Mark David Chapman pleaded guilty to second degree murder and was sentenced to 20 years to life for gunning down the Beatle outside of his Manhattan apartment complex on Dec. 8, 1980.

A decision regarding his release could come as soon as Thursday or Friday, according to the New York Department of Corrections.

At Chapman's last parole hearing in September 2010, he told the board that there were other names on his list of potential targets, including Johnny Carson and Elizabeth Taylor and two others he could not recall.

"I was going through that in my mind the other day; I knew you would ask that," Chapman told officials during the 2010 hearing. "Johnny Carson was one of them. Elizabeth Taylor. I lose memory of perhaps the other two."

"If it wasn't Lennon, it could have been someone else," he said.

Chapman said he chose the Beatle because he was the most accessible target on his list.

Yoko Ono, the wife of the late musician, said in 2010 that she opposed paroling Chapman and believed he could be a danger to her and her family.

Chapman became eligible for parole on Dec. 4, 2000, according to the New York Department of Corrections.

He is currently being housed at the Wende Correctional Facility in Alden, N.Y.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Jul142012

Betty Smithey, Longest Serving Female Inmate, May Get Parole For 1963 Murder

Arizona Department of Corrections(NEW YORK) -- Betty Smithey has been in prison for 49 years, convicted of killing a baby. Until now she was without the possibility of parole, but the "old code lifer" has been granted a chance at freedom by Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer.

Smithey, who is the U.S.'s longest serving female inmate according to a public records search by the Arizona Republic, was convicted in the 1963 New Year's Day murder of Sandy Gerberick, a 15-month-old she had been babysitting.

At the time, Smithey was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole. According to the law at the time she was sentenced, only the governor could grant her clemency.

She tried, appealing to former Arizona governors Fyfe Symington and Janet Napolitano, but was denied until Brewer, the current governor, approved Smithey's clemency request and agreed to lower her sentence to 48 years to life.

"Given the circumstances of Ms. Smithey's case, Governor Brewer believes this is an appropriate time for the Arizona Board of Executive Clemency to review this case for parole," said Matt Benson, spokesperson for Brewer.

The fate of the 69-year-old will rest in the hands of the five-member Arizona Board of Executive Clemency, who will hear Smithey's case on Aug. 13.

Smithey's attorney, Andy Silverman, said news of the hearing that had been granted "came as a pleasant surprise."

"If she was found guilty today, it may be second-degree murder. If she had [been convicted of second-degree murder instead of first] in 1963 when she was tried, she would have been out of prison many years ago," Silverman said.

Smithey escaped four times during her first few decades in prison. But a letter she received from her young victim's mother in 1983 flipped a switch in her and made her use her time to "be reflective," Silverman said.

At 69, Smithey walks with a cane and has battled breast cancer and "a myriad of other health issues," Silverman said.

"She's absolutely not a threat to society. She's almost 70 years old now," Silverman said. "She's done a lot of reflection. Forty-nine years in prison, you think a lot about what you've been through."

If released, Smithey plans to live with her niece, Silverman said.

The contingency plan for her release will be an important piece of Smithey's parole hearing, said Zig Popko, clinical professor at Arizona State's Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law at ASU.

"She has to show she is not a risk is what it comes down to," he said. "A board member will look at where she is going to be living. Does she have friends or family who are willing to take care of her? Does she have a release plan?"

Three of the five members of the parole board will have to vote in Smithey's favor in order for her to be released. If the hearing is unsuccessful, she'll be eligible again in six months.

"At this stage," Popko said, "She has gotten over the biggest hump."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Apr112012

Charles Manson Denied Parole Again

California Department of Corrections(LOS ANGELES) -- Mass murderer Charles Manson was denied parole Wednesday by the California parole board. It was the twelfth time Manson has been rejected for release.

Manson is serving a life sentence for seven murders in a 1969 killing spree in Los Angeles.

True to form, Manson boycotted the hearing and did not attend. Wednesday could have been Manson's last chance for freedom since the California Department of Corrections set Manson's next hearing for 15 years from now. Manson would be 92 by then.

Manson has been less than a model inmate. He has violated several rules in the five years since his last parole hearing, Calif. Department of Corrections spokeswoman Terry Thornton told ABC News.

He has been caught in possession of a weapon, threatened an officer, and has been caught twice with contraband cell phones in the past three years, Thornton said. Manson placed calls and messaged people in California, Florida, New Jersey, British Columbia, and elsewhere, Thornton said. The incidents, in 2009 and 2011, are still under investigation and Thornton could not comment on how he obtained the phones.

Manson was convicted of seven counts of first degree murder for a 1969 killing spree in Los Angeles. Manson was sentenced to death when he was found guilty, but the sentence was modified in 1977 to "life in prison with the possibility of parole, after a 1972 ruling by the California Supreme Court that determined the state's death penalty statute at the time was unconstitutional," according to the California Department of Corrections.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Apr112012

Mass Murderer Charles Manson Up for Parole

California Department of CorrectionsUPDATE: Mass murderer Charles Manson was denied parole Wednesday by the California parole board.

(LOS ANGELES) -- A California parole board will meet on Wednesday to determine if mass murderer Charles Manson could be considered "suitable" for parole.

Manson has been denied parole 11 times over the years and his several violations of prison rules do not bode well for any hopes of freedom.  He is serving a life sentence for seven murders in a 1969 killing spree in Los Angeles.

"We do not expect that Manson will show up.  He has not shown up for several of his latest hearings, since 1997," California Department of Corrections spokesman Luis Patino told ABC News.  "He told his counselor that he did not plan on attending."

Manson has been less than a model inmate.  He has violated several rules in the five years since his last parole hearing, California Department of Corrections spokeswoman Terry Thornton told ABCNews.com.

He has been caught in possession of a weapon, threatened a peace officer, and has been caught twice with contraband cellphones in the past three years, Thornton said.

Manson placed calls and messaged people in California, New Jersey, Florida, British Columbia and elsewhere, Thornton said.  The incidents, in 2009 and 2011, are still under investigation and Thornton could not comment on how he obtained the phones.

Those present for the hearing will include a commissioner, deputy commissioner, attorneys for both sides and family members of Manson's victims.

Attorneys from both sides will give presentations and read any documents by victims' relatives or other interested parties.  They will also go over Manson's prison records.

The hearing could last anywhere from 30 minutes to several hours, Patino said.  Then, the commissioners will go into closed deliberations and a decision is expected later in the afternoon.

The commissioners will decide if Manson is suitable or unsuitable for parole.  Once they make that determination, it could be upheld, denied or sent back by the governor to the full board of parole.  Even if Manson were granted parole, by law no formal decision would be made for 90 days.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Feb082012

Missouri Teen Thrill Killer Sentenced to Life; Could Get Parole

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(JEFFERSON CITY, Mo.) -- A teenager who slit her young neighbor's throat and called it "enjoyable" may have the opportunity to walk free one day.

Alyssa Bustamante, 18, was sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole in a Missouri courtroom on Wednesday.

The teen expressed remorse for brutally killing her neighbor, Elizabeth Olten, in October 2009, in what prosecutors described as a thrill killing.

"I know words can never be enough and they can never adequately describe how horribly I feel for all of this," Bustamante said to Olten's mother and siblings, who sat silently. "If I could give my life to get her back I would.  I'm sorry." Her remorse was decidedly different than diary entries she made after the brutal act, when she called killing the child "ahmazing."

Bustamante stabbed the 9-year-old girl in the chest, strangled her, sliced her throat and left her in a shallow grave covered with leaves so she could find out what it felt like to kill.

"I just f***ing killed someone.  I strangled them and slit their throat and stabbed them now they're dead.  I don't know how to feel atm [at the moment]," Bustamante wrote in her diary.

She later added: "It was ahmazing.  As soon as you get over the 'ohmygawd I can't do this' feeling, it's pretty enjoyable. I'm kinda nervous and shaky though right now.  Kay, I gotta go to church now...lol."

Prosecutor Mark Richardson had argued for life in prison, plus 71 years, accounting for the years Elizabeth lost.

The defense cited Bustamante's depression and a suicide attempt as a reason for a reduced sentence.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jan172012

Convicted Serial Killer Found Dead by Parole Agents in California

Convicted serial killer Loren Herzog from Sacramento, California is seen in this undated mugshot. (California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation(SUSANVILLE, Calif.) -- A convicted killer's body was found late Monday night and is being investigated as a possible suicide, officials tell ABC News.

Parolee Loren Herzog, 46, was found dead inside a trailer on California state property grounds right outside the perimeter of High Desert State Prison in Susanville, where he lived for more than a year after being released from prison.

A parole agent was in charge of monitoring Herzog around the clock through the use of a Global Positioning System monitor (GPS), worn on Herzog's ankle. The agent was alerted when the device bracelet was indicating a low battery.

After unsuccessful phone contact attempts, the agent called High Desert State Prison staff, who went to the residence and discovered Herzog's unresponsive body.

"The death is being investigated and is pending a complete autopsy, so at this moment we can't say what the cause of death or the condition of the body was," said Luis Patino, information officer for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR).

Herzog was released from prison in September 2010 after serving a reduced 14-year sentence for voluntary manslaughter, three counts of being an accessory to a felony, and one count for transportation of a controlled substance, according to a release from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

He was originally sentenced to 78 years to life for numerous first-degree murder charges with childhood friend Wesley Shermantine. The pair, who were dubbed the "Speed Freak Killers," were also convicted for the 1998 rape and murder of Cyndi Vanderheiden, whose body was never found.

According to court records, in August 2004, a state appellate court ordered a new trial for Herzog after defense attorneys found indications that detectives may have used coercive tactics to get a taped confession for the murders. Months later, Herzog's attorneys bargained a plea deal and he pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter charges. A judge reduced his sentence to 14 years. This decision bypassed a retrial.

Herzog was released from prison in September 2010. According to California law, a parolee is to return to the county of last legal residence, in this case San Joaquin County. However victims and their family members can make sure the parolee lives at least 35 miles from their residence. Due to all the unsolved murders and cases linked to Herzog, several people turned in requests to have him far from their homes, eliminating San Joaquin as an option.

Patino said at that point the state had to find a place for Herzog and decided to have him live in a trailer on fenced-off property grounds outside the prison.

"He had served the sentence so we couldn't keep him incarcerated," Patino said. "Agents could see if he was in the area through the GPS device and he had a strict no-contact list, he even had to request permission to leave the grounds, but he was still limited with regards to places he could go."

Patino also told ABC News that Herzog had regular meetings with parole agents, but that he could not discuss the status of his mental health condition recently due to California privacy laws.

Cyndi Vanderheiden's family did not immediately respond to calls from ABC News, but in an interview with The Stockton Record, her father, John Vanderheiden, said he wanted proof Herzog was dead, and he would be willing to drive to Susanville.

"As long as he's dead, that's great," Vanderheiden told The Stockton Record. "That's what he deserves."

According to officials, the death is under review by multiple agencies, including the Lassen County District Attorney's Office, the Lassen County Sheriff's Office and the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation's Investigative Services Unit.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Dec302010

Supporters Applaud Plan to Release Scott Sisters in Kidney Deal

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(JACKSON, Miss.) -- Civil rights advocates and family are cheering the suspension of life sentences for Gladys and Jamie Scott in a deal signed Thursday that includes one woman donating a kidney to keep her sister alive.

Backers have long claimed that the women, who are African-American, were innocent and their life prison sentences for an armed robbery -- reportedly for $11 -- were tinged with racism.

The case had drawn the attention of Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour who twice appealed to the Mississippi Parole Board because Jamie Scott, now 38, suffers from kidney disease and requires daily dialysis.

Barbour said their release was contingent on Gladys Scott, now 36, donating a kidney to her sister. Gladys Scott has agreed to the procedure to help her ailing sister.

The 1994 Mississippi case stirred memories of an older, racist South, as the two young women -- then 19 and 21 -- were accused of masterminding the robbery of two men on a roadside in Forest, Miss.

Claiming their innocence all along, the sisters said their car had broken down and three male acquaintances who had given them a ride, had actually committed the crime at gunpoint.

The Scott sisters, who had no prior records, later claimed that the African-American boys -- two brothers and a cousin -- were coerced into testifying against them.

The sisters, who had exhausted all their appeals, would have been eligible for parole in 2014.

Last week nearly 200 people rallied, asking the governor to release the sisters. They have been backed for more than a decade by advocacy groups like the Innocence Project, the American Civil Liberties Union and the NAACP.

"We think they will be released in a week or two," said the sisters' lawyer.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio 







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