RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — A man convicted in the killing of a Richmond police officer decades ago will not be released on parole Monday as previously scheduled, a person with knowledge of the decision told 8News, after several Republican lawmakers implored Gov. Ralph Northam (D) to prevent his release.
Vincent Lamont Martin, a 64-year-old Nottoway Correctional Center inmate, was sentenced to life in prison after being found guilty for killing Richmond patrolman Michael P. Connors in 1979.
The Virginia Parole Board approved Martin’s release in March, as other inmates were getting early release amid the coronavirus pandemic.
On Sunday, a group of key Virginia Republicans, including Senate Republican Leader Thomas K. Norment, Jr. (James City) and House Republican Leader Todd Gilbert (Shenandoah) wrote a letter to Northam urging the governor to halt Martin’s release.
Lawmakers claimed there were “highly irregular actions” around the Parole Board’s ruling to grant Martin his release in the letter, citing an ongoing investigation allegedly being conducted by the Office of the Inspector General’s “into potential procedural and/or legal violations” by the board.
“In our view, an ongoing investigation of the circumstances surrounding the decision by the Parole Board to release Mr. Martin mandates his release be halted, if not indefinitely, at least until the Inspector General’s findings are completed,” the letter stated. Therefore, we urge you to stay the release of Vincent Martin immediately.”
House Minority Leader Todd Gilbert spoke with 8News on Monday about the letter and the effort to get the governor to put a hold on Martin’s release until the investigation is complete.
“We know, in not only this case, but in a number of other cases that proper notice provisions were not followed. We know that in a number of convicted murder’s releases recently that prosecutors and victim’s families were not notified, that the law was not followed,” Gilbert said. “We think that any further releases of any violent criminals should be put on hold until that investigation is complete. And we expect the parole board and governor to follow the letter of the law as far as it goes with parole.”
Lawmakers also noted that Martin’s parole was rejected last year and that his scheduled release has raised concerns among Connors’ family and the Richmond Police Department.
“The urgency of our request cannot be overstated. Absent an immediate intervention by you,
Vincent Martin walks free tomorrow. We owe it to the victim’s family, to the Richmond Police Department, and to all Virginians to ensure that the process of granting parole is consistently legal, fair, and just,” the letter continued.
8News reached out to the sister of Richmond patrolman Michael P. Connors following news of the delayed release. She briefly told 8News that Monday was “a very emotional day” for the family. She declined to release any further comments.
As for Rep. Gilbert, he told 8News she hopes all the attention the case has gotten in recent weeks has stopped “the cold-blooded murderer of a police officer from walking free again today, when a jury decided he should spend the rest of his life in prison.”