RICHMOND, VA – Well, this should make the anti-cop crowd happy.
In Virginia, a man who was convicted in the 1979 killing of Richmond police officer Michael P. Connors was granted parole Wednesday, despite being sentenced to life from the killing.
Vincent Martin, who had originally been scheduled to be paroled on May 11, had his original release stopped at the last minute.
Now, in a present to the law enforcement-hating crowd, he has been released.
As Law Enforcement Today previously reported, Off. Connors’ family objected to the release, saying that they had never been notified by the parole board, which was a requirement under Virginia law.
Martin had been sentenced to life in prison for the murder of Connors, who was shot multiple times near the campus of VCU on Nov. 13, 1979.
At the time, the parole board was contacted by Commonwealth Attorney Colette McEachin, which asked them to reconsider their decision to release Martin, and to rescind the release, claiming concern about Martin’s fitness to be paroled.
Her concerns also included the process used by the parole board to release Martin.
CBS-6 reported at the time that Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam said he would review the case, which also led to Martin’s release being delayed.
In addition, the Office of the State Inspector General also opened an investigation at the time into how the parole board handled the case.
Martin’s parole had been pushed up in part due to the coronavirus, which has served as a convenient excuse for prison reform zealots to stage a “coronavirus prison break.”
The delay in Martin’s parole was only for 30 days, pending the conclusion of the Inspector General’s investigation.
Parole Board Chair Tonya Chapman confirmed Martin’s release to the Associated Press on Wednesday.
Chapman noted that the IG’s office was looking into the process used and making sure that the board followed state law and other policies and procedures in its decision-making process used to decide Martin’s fate. However, they had no input on the board’s final decision.
U.S. News and World Report said that according to a spokeswoman for the IG’s office, the investigation is still ongoing, however they could not discuss it further.
In correspondence via email on Wednesday, Chapman said that the 30-day hold had expired, and Martin was released in conjunction with a state code that says:
“The final decision to grant release on parole rests solely with the Parole Board.”
Martin’s initial release sparked sharp criticism from the law enforcement community. The Connors family, as well as Richmond’s top prosecutor, a Democrat, asked the board to pull back its decision. Connors’ family was contacted for input but raised concerns about the process.
In Richmond, Republican legislators had sought a delay in Martin’s release until the inspector general’s findings were complete.
The former parole board chair, Adrianne Bennett, now a judge (what could go wrong?) defended the board’s decision in a lengthy statement. In part, she wrote that Martin:
“has demonstrated himself over the decades to be a trusted leader, peacemaker, mediator and mentor in the correctional community”
and had been infraction-free for his entire bid in prison, 30 years. Bennett said that Martin had continually maintained his innocence. Bennett refused requests for interviews.
Bennett continued that the conviction had been based “primarily upon the conflicting testimony of the three cooperating co-defendants,” who were also convicted but served shorter sentences in the 1980’s and early 1990’s.
Off. Connors was raised in Buffalo, New York as well as the surrounding area, and was the oldest of five children in a close-knit family, according to his sister Maureen Clements. She said that he had only been on the Richmond Police Department for about a year when he was killed.
On a statewide level, State Sen. Ryan McDougle, chairman of the Senate Republican caucus said Martin’s release prior to the investigation’s conclusion was “outrageous.”
“Mr. Martin’s early release is an affront to the rule of law, an insult to law enforcement and a tragedy for the family of the police officer he executed, Michael Connors,” McDougle said in a statement.
Of course, Democrats, who usually throw down with criminals (based on recent events in our cities) said that they believed the process was fair and supported the board’s decision. Check out this Twitter post:
In 1979, Richmond Police Officer Michael P. Connors was shot four times in the head after making a routine traffic stop.
But in the wake of anti-cop sentiment, this seems like a good way to stick it to the man…https://t.co/LHwjaUcpt6
— Patholitical (@Patholitical) June 10, 2020
According to WHSV-3, in a statement, Democratic Senate Majority Leader Dick Saslaw and Caucus Chair Manie E. Locke said:
“We are truly dismayed that Mr. Martin’s case has been hijacked for the purpose of clickbait and scoring political points.
“Our Republican colleagues have had a lot to say about Mr. Martin in spite of the due process involved in his case, but we have yet to hear anything from them about Mr. Arbery, Ms. Taylor, or Mr. Floyd (none Virginia residents, by the way) in spite of the sheer lack of due process involved in theirs. We wonder when this double standard will end.”
Spoken like true Democrats.
WHSV-3 also reported that State Sen. Mark Obenshain issued the following statement on Wednesday:
“While Governor Northam’s decision to release Vincent Martin before the Office of the State Investigator General (OSIG) has completed its investigation is deeply disturbing, it’s not surprising. Prioritizing his personal reputation and political rehabilitation above all else, he’s encouraged his Parole Board’s leniency from day one at the expense of the safety of families and communities across Virginia.
“Because the families of victims, law enforcement, and communities across the Commonwealth have caught on to the Parole Board’s dubious leniency, the Inspector General opened an investigation. But Governor Northam still chose to release Martin even though the investigation isn’t done.
“This decision isn’t about police reform, it’s about the cold-blooded execution of a Richmond police officer and Governor Northam’s decision to let his murderer out of jail, independent investigation be damned.”
It seems like Republicans have taken the side of law and order, while Democrats have thrown down with criminals.
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