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17 denials cap first month of restarted Alabama parole hearings

Violence continues to plague Alabama's prison system.  This month, the Equal Justice Initiative...
Violence continues to plague Alabama's prison system. This month, the Equal Justice Initiative classified Alabama's prisons as some of the deadliest in the country.
Updated: Nov. 20, 2019 at 6:18 PM EST
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - The first month of hearings since the Alabama Board of Pardons and Paroles restarted the parole process has wrapped up, and the results show just nine inmates - or a total of eight percent for the month - were granted an early release.

According to Terry Abbott, ABPP’s director of communications, the three-person board reviewed 113 cases in November and refused parole 104 times for a denial rate of 92 percent.

A review of ABPP’s releases from Nov. 5 through 20 shows a total of 56 inmates serving time for violent crimes including murder, rape, and armed robbery came up for parole and were subsequently denied.

The releases summarily tout the number of violent offenders denied parole each day but make little if any mention of those denied parole while serving time for non-violent offenses. A search of those particular inmates on the state DOC website shows many appear to be incarcerated on various drug convictions.

On Wednesday, the Board released statements on the month’s final 17 inmates with hearings, all of whom were denied parole while serving time for violent offenses.

They include:

  • Michael Scott Moisan Jr. was sentenced in 1999 to life in prison for murder in Montgomery County. A representative from the attorney general’s office noted Moisan has served 20 years of his life sentence. “He took a life. Twenty years is not enough,” the representative told the board members. Victims of Crime and Leniency (VOCAL) also opposed parole.
  • Terrence Darby Rogers was sentenced in 2013 to 20 years in prison for first-degree robbery and 10 years for drug possession in Madison County. Rogers was charged with shooting into an occupied vehicle in 2011. He had been sent to prison in 2009 for four years on drug charges in Madison County. The attorney general’s office testified that Rogers has violated prison disciplinary rules as recently as last month.
  • Tanya Lynn Wiginton was sentenced Feb. 27, 2018, to seven years in prison in the 2016 second-degree rape of a 14-year-old boy. The TimesDaily reported Aug. 1, 2018, that Wiginton admitted to having a sexual relationship with a teenage boy in Franklin County. The newspaper reported on Feb. 18, 2018, that Wiginton had spent two years in jail but was ordered back to prison to serve the remainder of her seven-year sentence after she failed to register as a sex offender and let her probation officer know where she was living. The paper said she was originally arrested on the rape charge in February 2016. VOCAL and the Franklin County District Attorney opposed the parole.
  • Kiarah Donque Jones was sentenced in 2010 to 15 years in prison for first-degree robbery and first-degree burglary in Madison County. He was later paroled but then violated parole in 2018. The attorney general’s office testified Wednesday that Jones has had 25 disciplinary infractions in prison.
  • Markyle Jabori Khalfani was sentenced in 2009 to life in prison for first-degree robbery in Mobile County. Al.com reported on Nov. 2, 2007, that Satsuma Police said Khalfani and another man went into a 73-year-old man’s home, held him at gunpoint, bound him with duct tape and took his wallets and medications. The victim said Khalfani kept threatening him, stating he would not hesitate to shoot the victim. The attorney general’s office reported Khalfani has had two prison disciplinary infractions this year.
  • Lacarus Keith Hunter was sentenced in 2005 to 25 years in prison for murder in Greene County. VOCAL opposed parole in this case, as did the victim’s mother, who told the board members “Not a day goes by that I don’t long for my child.” The victim’s mother talked about how it feels “not to have a child that says ‘momma, I love you.’” A representative of VOCAL called the murder “very brutal,” noting the victim was shot in the head. The attorney general’s office, joining the district attorney in opposition to parole, testified Hunter was cited for a fight with a weapon in prison in which he stabbed another inmate.
  • Daniel Webster Ordon of Dothan was sentenced on April 2, 2018, to six years in prison on five counts of second-degree sodomy. The Houston County District Attorney testified in opposition to parole, noting that Ordon seduced a teenage boy over Facebook. “Please don’t let him out at this time,” the district attorney said, joining VOCAL and the attorney general in opposition.
  • Christopher Dionne Ray Jr. was sentenced in 2009 to 20 years in prison for first-degree robbery in Mobile County. He was later paroled but violated his parole in 2018. The attorney general’s office said Ray has had multiple disciplinary infractions in prison.
  • Walter Eugene Toney was sentenced in 1990 to 40 years in prison for first-degree rape in Lee County. VOCAL opposed Toney’s parole.
  • David Matthew Thomas was sentenced in 1984 to life in prison for first-degree robbery in Jefferson County after having been convicted four years earlier for rape and another robbery. Appeals court records state that as the victim in the 1984 conviction “was getting out of her car (the suspect) ordered her into the car. As he got into the car with her, she stated, he had a knife. (The victim) went on to relate the story of how the assailant robbed her and was scared away when some other persons drove into the parking deck.” Thomas was sentenced in 1980 to 12 years in prison for rape and robbery in Shelby County. The attorney general’s office spoke in opposition and on behalf of the Jefferson County District Attorney who also objected to parole.
  • Carlos S. Ellis was sentenced in 2010 to 20 years in prison for first-degree robbery and three years for receiving stolen property in Mobile County. The attorney general’s office noted Ellis has had 24 prison disciplinary infractions, including two recently.
  • Jeremy Lynn Colvin was sentenced on Aug. 16, 2018, to 20 years in prison for a 2013 third-degree robbery in Pickens County.
  • Roosevelt King III was sentenced in June 2017 to 15 years in prison for second-degree domestic violence in Mobile County. His prior record includes a five-year prison sentence in 2010 for possession of a controlled substance and receiving stolen property. The attorney general’s office reported King has several prison disciplinary infractions.
  • Chadwick W. Blankenship was sentenced in 2004 to 17 years in prison for manslaughter in Shelby County. He has already been paroled once in his criminal career, having been released from prison in 2001 while serving a 10-year sentence for three counts of criminal possession of a forged instrument. The attorney general’s office testified Blankenship is “anything but a model inmate,” with 23 prison disciplinary infractions.
  • Coolidge Brown was sentenced in 2016 to 10 years in prison on nine counts of child pornography (possession of obscenity of person under 17) in Dale County. WTVY-TV in Dothan reported investigators executed a search warrant at Brown’s home and “recovered multiple hidden surveillance cameras and other devices used to capture the images.”
  • Ruben Corey McNabb was sentenced to life in prison for first-degree robbery in Houston County. The Associated Press reported McNabb was charged with first-degree robbery for allegedly using a handgun to steal an undisclosed amount of cash and food stamps from a Winn Dixie store in June 2001. The Houston County District Attorney opposed parole, and the attorney general’s office testified McNabb has had five prison disciplinary infractions.
  • Medical Parole was denied for Stephanie Gravlee, who killed a woman with her car while driving drunk at .25 blood alcohol level, three times the legal limit. She has served only half her 23-year sentence for murder. The victim’s mother asked the Elmore County District Attorney to represent her at the hearing in opposition to parole. WSFA 12 News reported Gravlee is a “prominent Autauga County woman” who killed “a promising political scientist from the University of Alabama” who had just finished an internship with then- Gov. Bob Riley’s office. VOCAL also opposed Gravlee’s parole.

Newly-appointed Director of the Alabama Bureau of Pardons and Paroles, Judge Charlie Graddick, allowed hearings to resume on Nov. 5 after they were halted in September and October. He cited the agency’s lack of compliance with a new state law, HB380, regarding notification policies for the delays of 627 hearings.

Graddick’s appointment came after a lengthy fight to restructure the ABPP after it was discovered that the board was putting violent offenders on the parole docket before they were eligible. WSFA 12 News uncovered this during a lengthy investigation into the board’s parole practices.

Graddick said as the hearings restarted in early November that “inmates do not have an innate right to be paroled, they must earn such a privilege,” and cautioned the board to review the actions of violent offenders “very carefully.”

Hearings will resume on Dec. 3 before a holiday break that will last until January.

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