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October 2, 2022

Accused killer of Alabama grandmother, her 7-year-old grandson and neighbor denied parole

The Alabama Board of Pardons and Paroles on Tuesday denied parole to an inmate accused of killing three people during his last release from prison.

The board, as expected, denied parole to Jimmy O’Neil Spencer whose previous release from prison drew outrage and a move to restrict paroles in the state.

Spencer was paroled in 2017 after being given a life sentence for a string of crimes ranging from burglary to assault. The next year he was accused of killing two women and a child in Guntersville.

Spencer has pleaded not guilty in the 2018 deaths of Marie Martin, 74; her 7-year-old great-grandson Colton Lee; and Martha Reliford, 65, a neighbor of Martin. Spencer was returned to prison to continue serving the initial life sentence he was given while he awaits trial on the capital murder charges. Tuesday’s parole hearing was automatically scheduled.

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey and Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall both urged the board to deny parole to Spencer.

The murder charges against Spencer led to leadership and policy changes on the parole board. The rate of paroles granted has dropped sharply over the last years.

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