‘We owe it to the victim’s family…to ensure that the process…is consistently legal, fair, and just…’
UPDATE via AP: The expected release Monday of a man convicted in the 1979 killing of a Richmond police officer has been put on hold, and an investigation by Virginia’s government watchdog agency is underway into the parole board’s handling of his case, according to the slain officer’s sister.
Maureen Clements told The Associated Press she was notified Monday morning by the Virginia Parole Board that Vincent L. Martin, who has spent four decades in prison for her brother’s on-duty killing, would not be released as scheduled.
ORIGINAL ARTICLE: (Associated Press) A group of Republican Virginia lawmakers called on Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam, at the last minute, to prevent the release of a man who killed a police officer in 1979.
Vincent Lamont Martin, 64, is scheduled to be released Monday from the Nottoway Correctional Center in Burkeville.
Martin is one of dozens of inmates convicted in slayings who were granted parole in March during a push to accelerate the review of parole-eligible inmates because of the coronavirus pandemic, according to an Associated Press analysis.
But in a letter to Northam on Sunday, the lawmakers said the nature of the crime and “irregularities involving the Parole Board’s decision” should prompt the governor to halt Martin’s release.
According to WTVR-TV, the board’s decision is under investigation by the Office of the State Inspector General.
“The urgency of our request cannot be overstated,” wrote the four lawmakers, including House Republican Leader C. Todd Gilbert and Senate Republican Leader Thomas K. Norment, Jr. “We owe it to the victim’s family, to the Richmond Police Department, and to all Virginians to ensure that the process of granting parole is consistently legal, fair, and just.”
Martin was sentenced to life in prison more than 40 years ago for killing Richmond patrolman Michael P. Connors, who was shot four times in the head during a traffic stop, news outlets have reported.
Martin’s pending release has also outraged Connors’ family, Richmond Police Chief William Smith and Richmond Commonwealth’s Attorney Colette McEachin.
McEachin recently asked the parole board to rescind the release, saying that she was concerned about Martin’s suitability for parole, WTVR-TV reported.