HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) — A man charged with the murders of a 7-year-old, his great grandmother and her neighbor will have a parole hearing for unrelated charges on August 9. Governor Kay Ivey wrote a strongly worded response against him being granted parole.
“Under no circumstances should Jimmy O’Neal Spencer be granted parole,” Governor Ivey said in her letter. “To parole him now would be dangerous and downright despicable.”
Jimmy O’Neal Spencer was paroled in November 2017, then released in January 2018, after the parole board believed he was unlikely to commit any more crimes.
“But now, as he approaches yet another chance at parole, he stands accused of another, far more serious crime: capital murder,” the governor continued.
Spencer has been charged with the July 2018 murders of 7-year-old Colton Lee, his great-grandmother Marie Martin, and her neighbor Martha Reliford. A jury trial for their murders has been set for October 17, 2022. He is facing a total of seven counts of capital murder. The prosecution is seeking the death penalty.
According to Matthew Estes, Communications Director for the ABPP, Spencer was on parole after being charged with second-degree burglary and first-degree escape.
His parole was revoked after he was charged with the murders of Lee, Martin and Reliford at their homes on Mulberry Street in Guntersville. Just before the murders occurred, Spencer spent three weeks in a halfway house in Birmingham before heading to Guntersville.
Estes says that following any parole being revoked, reconsideration hearings are required, and Spencer’s multiple capital murder charges don’t affect his eligibility for parole consideration.
Governor Ivey summarized her thoughts by saying, “But today is a time to return our focus to this particular case, and in doing so, to ensure that Spencer is never again able to harm innocent people. By any measure, Spencer is unworthy of parole. He has proven that he is a danger to the public and cannot be trusted in any way. His first award of parole was a grievous error, with deadly consequences for three precious lives. The Board simply cannot parole Spencer a second time.”
Read her full letter to the Alabama Board of Pardons and Paroles here.
In a statement Monday evening, Attorney General Steve Marshall said he plans on speaking in opposition to Spencer’s parole.
Inmate Jimmy O. Spencer was convicted of burglary and sentenced as a habitual offender to life in prison in 1989. In 1993, he escaped, was convicted of escape in the first degree, and again sentenced to life in prison. During his incarceration, Spencer incurred many disciplinary infractions, some of which involved violence.
Despite his poor behavior, he was granted parole in 2018. In July 2018, after absconding from supervision, Spencer murdered Martha Reliford, 65, Marie Martin, 74, and Colton Lee, 7, in Marshall County.
He has been charged with capital murder and is awaiting trial. Inmate Spencer’s parole (on his previous crime) was revoked after he was charged with capital murder, but the previous Parole Board set his reconsideration date at three years rather than the five-year maximum permitted by law. Spencer’s trial for the 2018 killings is set for October 17, 2022.
Inmate Spencer’s parole status is expected to be the first case considered by the Bureau of Pardons and Paroles during their Tuesday morning hearing, which is open to the public. Attorney General Marshall will speak in opposition to Spencer’s parole during the hearing.The Alabama Attorney General’s Office
Marshall said the hearing begins at 8 a.m. on Tuesday.