WAAY31 uncovered how a change in an Alabama law lead to previous victims of a now suspected killer to not be notified about his parole hearing in 2017.
Under Alabama's Justice Reinvestment Act the parole board no longer recognizes victims of 2nd or third degree burglary as victims. Only if a person is convicted of first degree burglary in the presence of a victim will a notification be sent out.
Jimmy Spencer, a man charged with killing three people in Guntersville, was serving a life sentence for 2nd degree burglary out of Franklin County when he was paroled in January 2018.
Spencer's original victim from Franklin County, who does not want to be named, said there is no excuse as to why he was not notified about Spencer's 2017 parole hearing. Franklin County District Attorney, Joey Rushing, was not notified either about Spencer's 2017 parole hearing.
"They did not notify the people that would know best on whether a person should be released from jail," said Rushing.
Before the Justice Revisement Act of 2015, the board did notify Rushing and Spencer's original victim about his hearings in 2008 and 2013.
"In a situation like this, it was a burglary case in which Mr. Spencer went into a residence and got shot. Obviously the victim was in a self defense mode and the defendant [Spencer] kept advancing into his home even after being confronted by the homeowner. If that's not evidence of violence or what Mr. Spencer was capable of, nothing is," said Rushing.
The change in 2015 said the parole board only needs to notify victims of specific crimes like homicide, class A felonies (excluding first degree burglary where a victim is present), and sex crimes.
"The parole board.. all they have is a piece of paper or what's in front of them. We know the facts the details that's why I think it's so important that they notify us anytime a person with a life sentence or extensive sentence like that comes up parole," said Rushing.
Rushing believes that portion of the law needs to be changed. We have reached out to the parole board numerous times asking about the Spencer case. They have not gotten back to us. We also asked for conditions of Spencer's parole but they denied our request and said his parole conditions are not public record.