Alabama AG’s office says triple murder suspect was ‘improperly categorized’ for parole

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After spending over 30 years in prison Jimmy Spencer was paroled in January 2018. Months after being released, he has found himself behind bars yet again, accused of slaying three people in Guntersville, Ala. — 65-year-old Martha Dell Reliford, 74-year-old Marie Kitchens Martin and Martin’s great-grandson, 7-year-old Colton Ryan Lee.

Now, the Alabama Attorney General’s office is saying Spencer was paroled only because he was mis-categorized as a “non-victim” offender in the system.

“Mr. Spencer was improperly categorized as a ‘non-victim’ offender,” said Mike Lewis with the Alabama Attorney General’s Office, according to WHNT News 19. “As a result, our Office of Victim Assistance was not alerted to his violent past. This case also raises concerns with the Paole Board’s risk assessment procedures and whether the implementation of this process is failing the public. The Attorney General grieves the loss of life and is working with prosecutors and law enforcement from around the state on a solution to the issues raised in this case.”

Spencer’s criminal past

From the Alabama Department of Corrections:

Spencer, 52, was first sentenced to prison in July 1984 to one year for third-degree burglary in Franklin County. Later he was charged and convicted of a prison escape in September 1984 and received a 10-year sentence. Spencer again received another 10-year sentence to run consecutively with his prior sentences for a second escape conviction in May 1985.

Spencer was paroled by the Alabama Board of Pardons and Paroles in July 1988. His parole was revoked in January 1989 for a second-degree burglary conviction in Franklin County. He received a life sentence in February 1990 following the conviction.

Spencer again escaped from prison on March 14, 1993, and was recaptured May 16, 1993. He was charged and convicted of unlawful breaking and entering a vehicle and third-degree burglary during his escape and received two 16-year sentences for each conviction to run consecutively with his life sentence.”

While serving his prison sentence, Spencer was charged and convicted of second-degree assault of an inmate and received a 15-year sentence.

Spencer received a second parole from the Board of Pardons and Paroles and was released from prison on January 22, 2018.

He now stands charged with seven counts of murder in his killing of three victims.

  • Murder during the commission of a first-degree robbery, for the murder of Reliford
  • Capital murder for a murder committed while serving a life sentence, for the murder of Reliford
  • Murder during the commission of first-degree robbery, for the murder of Martin
  • Capital murder for a murder committed while serving a life sentence, for the murder of Martin
  • The murder of two or more people at one time, for the murders of Martin and Lee
  • The intentional murder of a child under 14-years-old, for the murder of Lee
  • Capital murder for a murder committed while serving a life sentence, for the murder of Lee

Consequences of the Parole Board’s decisions

The Parole Board has made headlines as of late as they’ve been scrutinized for decisions beyond that of granting Spencer parole.

Two Florence, Ala. menMichael Prater and Darnell Rice, were both released this year despite objections from prosecutors. Prater, who pled guilty to aggravated stalking and escape and was sentenced to 15 years, only served four before the Parole Board released him. Meanwhile, Rice only served seven years of a 20 year sentence for shooting a man.

Meanwhile Kayla French was released just last month after serving only two years of a 13 year sentence for stabbing her ex-boyfriend’s new girlfriend four times — including once in the heart.
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