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Franklin County District Attorney ‘shocked’ after seeing news of Spencer’s arrest, thought he was still in prison

FRANKLIN COUNTY, Ala. - Franklin County District Attorney Joey Rushing was not the person on the job when Jimmy O'Neal Spencer was convicted of burglary, three times, in his county. But, he certainly knew of him.

"He ended up being shot when he was going into a home of an individual," Rushing said. "He actually had to shoot him to prevent him from going into the home."

Spencer was in prison on sentences that totaled "life plus 67 years." The Alabama Board of Pardons and Paroles paroled him in November, and he was released from prison in January. Now, he's charged with seven counts of capital murder for the deaths of three people in Guntersville in July 2013.

Rushing said he never received notification of his parole hearing, otherwise he would have written a letter to the board to persuade them to deny his release.

On board action sheet for Spencer, the members checked the box stating he had a "low to medium risk" of re-offending.

"This is someone who's proven over and over again that they are a high risk of re-offending," Rushing said. "If he's not, then there is none that's a risk of re-offending."

Rushing and Spencer's victims did not receive notification of Spencer's November 2, 2017 parole hearing. But, the board no longer has to notify the victims nor particular public officials in parole cases for burglary convictions.

"Knowing what I knew about Mr. Spencer, we would have taken this case very seriously," Rushing said. "What I did put, in 2013, is that we felt like he was a danger to society, and that him being released was not something that they should even consider.

The district attorney said he found out about the capital murder charges against Spencer at the same time as everyone else.

"I got a news bulletin on my phone that said, 'Jimmy Spencer was arrested for the triple homicide in Guntersville,'" Rushing recalled. "I did a double take and I was like, 'Surely, that's not the Franklin County Jimmy Spencer.'"

Spencer's next court date is September 4 at the Marshall County Courthouse for his arraignment.

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