Va. senator criticizes suspension of cop killer's release

"Surely, Sen. Morrissey wouldn’t suggest that the rush to release convicted criminals should take precedence over the rights of victims," said Police Chief Howard Hall


Mark Bowes
Richmond Times-Dispatch

RICHMOND — State Sen. Joe Morrissey, D-Richmond, is criticizing the Virginia Parole Board's decision to suspend the scheduled release of Vincent Martin, sentenced in 1980 to life in prison for the killing of a Richmond police officer.

"I find it indefensible that outside forces were able to compel the Virginia Parole Board to rescind Mr. Martin's parole, albeit temporarily for 30 days," Morrissey wrote in the missive on State Senate letterhead dated Thursday to Parole Board Chairwoman Tonya Chapman. "The Virginia Parole Board either followed the law when they granted parole to Mr. Martin or they didn't. If they didn't follow the law, then say so."

State Sen. Joe Morrissey, D-Richmond, is criticizing the Virginia Parole Board's decision to suspend the scheduled release of Vincent Martin. (Photo/TNS)
State Sen. Joe Morrissey, D-Richmond, is criticizing the Virginia Parole Board's decision to suspend the scheduled release of Vincent Martin. (Photo/TNS)

"However, if they did follow the law, then I would respectfully request that the Virginia Parole Board immediately reinstated Mr. Martin's parole," he added.

Morrissey said it was his understanding that Martin "had collected his personal belongings, was dressed in street clothes and was literally exiting the prison when his parole was rescinded."

After mounting opposition to Martin's release developed from police officials, law enforcement groups and some state legislators and prosecutors, Chapman announced Monday that Martin's release was being put on "temporary hold." Martin originally was to have been released April 30, but the date was inexplicably moved back to May 11.

Chapman, who became chairman April 16 after the parole board voted 4-0 to release Martin, said she felt it would be prudent to delay Martin's release for a period not to exceed 30 days to allow the Office of the Inspector General time to investigate how the parole board reached its decision. It has not been disclosed who ordered that investigation.

Morrissey said it was his understanding that Martin "had collected his personal belongings, was dressed in street clothes and was literally exiting the prison when his parole was rescinded."

After mounting opposition to Martin's release developed from police officials, law enforcement groups and some state legislators and prosecutors, Chapman announced Monday that Martin's release was being put on "temporary hold." Martin originally was to have been released April 30, but the date was inexplicably moved back to May 11.

Chapman, who became chairman April 16 after the parole board voted 4-0 to release Martin, said she felt it would be prudent to delay Martin's release for a period not to exceed 30 days to allow the Office of the Inspector General time to investigate how the parole board reached its decision. It has not been disclosed who ordered that investigation.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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