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Jim Parsons should learn fate of parole request within a week

Norwalk Reflector Staff • May 18, 2013 at 6:07 AM

A Norwalk man who has served nearly 20 years in prison for the murder of his wife could be released soon.

James "Jim" O. Parsons, 75, had an institutional hearing Friday in which a parole board member and hearing officer visited him at the prison in Mansfield.

A decision as to whether Parsons will be released from prison is expected within a week.

Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction's parole board, which was created as a section within the Adult Parole Authority, currently consists of 11 members whose duties include conducting release consideration hearings on all parole-eligible inmates and providing clemency recommendations to the governor.

Additional parole board personnel include a staff of 14 hearing officers, including three supervisory chief hearing officers. The primary statutory duties of the hearing officers are to assess all inmates sentenced after July 1, 1996, and determine whether or not post-release control will be required after release, and to conduct field violation hearings to determine if violations of the conditions of supervision have occurred and recommend an official response to the violations.

When there is opposition to a person being paroled, then a hearing before the full board will take place, allowing for victims and others to testify. Then, the governor must give his OK.

At other times, as was the case with Parsons, a board member and hearing officer will visit the inmate and then return with their recommendation to the full board. An approval by the governor is not needed.

A department spokesperson on Friday said a decision should be made Thursday or next Friday.

Parsons is serving a 15 years-to-life term for using a mechanic's tool to fatally beat his then 41-year-old wife, Barbara Parsons, in their Sycamore Hills home on Feb. 12, 1981. She was bludgeoned to death by 15 blows from a break bar, which is a tool used to loosen impacted nuts and bolts.

Initially, no one was charged with the crime. However, thanks to advanced forensic techniques unavailable in 1981, authorities were able to indict Parsons on a murder charge in February 1993. In August of that year, a jury returned a guilty verdict following a two-week trial.

Parsons has been at the Richland Correctional Institution since Aug. 18, 1993.

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