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There Ought to be a Law: Parole Notice Problems
BUTLER COUNTY, Ohio (Rich Jaffe) -- In 1970 Iron Horseman, James Findley murdered and mutilated 16-year-old Cheryl Segal.
"The cruelty, the barbarism of James Findley in the death of this young lady was horrific. It wasn't merely, and I don't mean to diminish the idea of murder, but it wasn't just a killing it was a destruction of a body."
Findley took trophies from Cheryl's body to earn a "patch" for his motorcycle jacket.
While a spokesperson for the parole board says they sent an email notice of Findley's October hearing to Butler County in July, prosecutor Mike Gmoser says he never got it.
"I did not receive a notification. Why I can't tell you that. They may believe that it had been sent appropriately and it may have, but I've been very religious about doubling up. Making sure all notifications are not only received by me but also a member of my staff."
As soon as Gmoser heard about the hearing, from Columbus victims advocate Bret Vinocur, he sent the parole board a powerful letter that no doubt helped keep Findley locked up for another five years.
But this is not the first time this prosecutor hasn't been notified about parole hearings.
It also happened in February when child killer, Jonathan Anders, was coming up for parole. And last year when child killing predator, Jeffrey Hubbard, was due for potential release.
For years, prosecutors across Ohio have echoed similar problems. In March, Ohio passed Senate Bill 160-Roberta's Law, requiring more and better notification of victims.
The problem is there's no guarantee anyone, including prosecutors, actually receives the notice. A department spokeswoman told Local 12s Rich Jaffe through email:
"In anticipation of SB-160 we created a notification unit to help ensure compliance with statutory notice requirements. In so doing, prosecutor's offices were contacted to determine if they were agreeable to receiving notices electronically. All prosecutor's offices are now receiving the notices electronically, except for one county who is still receiving the notices through US Mail."
After explaining Local 12's story to her she went on to say, "I am not really sure what the issue is since we can verify that our notice was sent."
Except the prosecutor says he never got it!
While prosecutors say the current electronic system is better, someone needs to make sure notices are actually received. The Ohio attorney general says parole notice problems date back to when he was a prosecutor.
"When you prosecute a case you really understand that case and so you want to be able to go back to the parole board and say no this guy should not get out. Let me tell you about this case. You want that opportunity, so to not have that opportunity, I don't think is doing the victim justice."
When Rich Jaffe explained the problems to State Senator Eric Kearney, he drafted Senate Bill-133, which would require registered mail or read receipt emails for parole notices. Either one gives the parole board proof that someone actually received the notice.
"It's just a safeguard for victims. I would think if I was a victim or had a crime, say a murder in my family, I would want to make sure the prosecutor knew for certain that a parole hearing was coming up. I would want to know about the parole hearing and Id want to attend it."
SB-133 is expected to come up for a Senate committee hearing next month, because... there ought to be a law.