On Tuesday, the Alabama Board of Pardons and Paroles denied parole to Jimmy O’Neal Spencer. Spencer is accused of murdering three people in 2018 – the last time the state gave him parole.

Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall (R) personally represented the state of Alabama at the parole hearing and urged the Board not to release Spencer from prison. Spencer is charged with three counts of capital murder in Marshall County and is awaiting trial for those alleged crimes. He is currently in prison for violating the terms of his previous parole.

“I am pleased that the Board has denied Jimmy Spencer parole for the crimes for which he is currently serving two life sentences,” said Marshall. “But his case continues to highlight fatal flaws in Alabama’s criminal laws. Under no circumstance should a man serving two life sentences and awaiting trial on three capital murder charges ever be eligible for parole."

Austin Patrick Hall, age 26, shot and killed Bibb County Deputy Brad Johnson and wounded another deputy while he was both out on parole and awaiting trial for criminal offenses he is accused of committing during his parole. The deputies were investigating a possible stolen car when they stopped Hall.

Marshall said that the Spencer case continues to highlight fatal flaws in Alabama’s criminal laws that demand immediate attention and action by the State Legislature when they meet for the 2023 regular session in March.

This is the second time that the Board has voted to deny Spencer’s parole this summer. The previous hearing was in June.

Spencer, age 56, is a career criminal with an extensive arrest record spanning several decades and comprising numerous felonies. He was first imprisoned in the early 1980s, and continued to commit crimes in the years that followed, both inside and outside of custody. In 1989, after committing a burglary and being sentenced as a habitual offender for his repeat felony convictions, Spencer received his first life-in-prison sentence. In 1993, after escaping from custody and committing a number of other crimes while on the run, Spencer received his second life-in-prison sentence. The previous board paroled Spencer in 2018. He was ordered to serve six months at a halfway house in Birmingham, but he absconded less than three weeks later.

Investigators say they believe he then murdered Martha Reliford, age 65, Marie Martin, age 74, and Martin’s great-grandson, Colton Lee, age 7, in Guntersville. He has been charged with capital murder and is awaiting trial for the three slayings. The Marshall County District Attorney is asking for the death penalty.

That tragedy prompted Marshall and Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey (R) to work with the Legislature to reform the Alabama Board of Pardons and Paroles. That effort led to an overhaul of the institution increasing the safety of the people of Alabama. Marshall has been consistent that Alabama’s criminal laws are also in vital need of reform. Marshall said that Spencer’s newest opportunity for parole illustrates this.

Gov. Ivey also asked the Board not to parole Spencer given his history of violent behavior and the pending capital murder trials.

To connect with the author of this story, or to comment, email brandon.moseley@1819News.com.

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