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Republican Lawmakers Demand Parole Board Resignations

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Norment (left) and Obenshain (right), pictured at a pre-pandemic session earlier this year, are among the Republican lawmakers calling on Virginia Parole Board members to resign. (Photo: Craig Carper/VPM News)

Republican lawmakers are calling on the entire Virginia Parole Board to resign, after a man convicted of killing a police officer in 1979 was granted parole in April.

In a virtual press conference, House Minority Leader Todd Gilbert (R-Shenandoah), Senate Minority Leader Tommy Norment (R-James City) and Sen. Mark Obenshain (R-Harrisonburg) condemned the decision by the board to grant parole to Vincent Martin. Martin was sentenced to life in prison for the killing of Richmond police officer Michael Connors and had served 40 years in prison.

Gilbert said during the press conference Thursday that the board showed a pattern of “bias” in favor of releasing Vincent Martin.

“This Board had to notify people in a timely fashion. They had to notify the Commonwealth’s Attorney in a timely fashion. They failed to do so. They had to disseminate this information to the family to get input. They failed to do so,” he said.

The Office of the State Inspector General (OSIG) released a report in late July to media outlets that concluded the board violated procedure under Virginia law -- but the report was heavily redacted, causing the state’s Republican leadership to grow louder in their calls for transparency.

“I think the public deserves an awareness and some insight into the process, otherwise the statutory provisions that have currently been written by the General Assembly that are in the Code of Virginia would have never been put in there, if we wanted to try to masquerade or cloak what was going on,” Norment told reporters Thursday.

Prior to the lawmakers’ press conference, the Virginia Parole Board said in a press release that the inspector general’s conclusions are based on factual inaccuracies and a misunderstanding of the Virginia Code.

“Furthermore, as previously indicated… The findings in OSIG’s investigation do not impact the final decisions rendered by the Board as the final decision rests solely with the Parole Board,” the press release says.

An unredacted version of the OSIG report has since been released. At the top and bottom of the document, new language says to “do not further disseminate this report to preserve the integrity of the investigation."

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