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Va. Governor Lambastes Convict Releases

January 04, 2002|From the Washington Post

RICHMOND, Va. — Gov. James S. Gilmore sharply criticized the Virginia Parole Board for releasing two men convicted in Washington-area murders and demanded that the board's five members either stop freeing killers or resign.

Administration officials said the release last month of Joseph Martin and Floyd Honesty, who were serving life sentences in unrelated 1970s slayings, infuriated Gilmore, a former law-and-order prosecutor and state attorney general.

In a harshly worded letter released Wednesday, Gilmore, a Republican, lambasted the board members, all of whom he appointed. He called their decisions "outrageous actions" and "unacceptable to me and to the citizens of Virginia," and he criticized the board for not adequately notifying the victims' families or consulting with prosecutors before releasing the men.

"If you feel as though you cannot discharge your duties and live up to the spirit of Virginia laws designed to protect Virginia citizens, you should submit your resignation," the governor wrote. "Any further parole actions such as those described above will, in my opinion, constitute such failure."

James Jenkins, the board chairman, who opposed parole for both men, said the board members who voted to set them free weighed several factors, including the number of years they had served and their good prison records. It took a unanimous vote of the board's four other members to release the two men.

Martin, 51, a former insurance agent, was convicted in a 1977 murder-for-hire scheme that left a client and his fiancee dead in their North Arlington home. Martin served 22 years of his sentence, which was life plus 20 years.

Honesty, 47, was convicted in the fatal 1975 bludgeoning of a Navy sailor in Fairfax County. He served 26 years of his life sentence.

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