Convicted murder to stay behind Miss. bars for now

JACKSON – A man set to be released from a Mississippi prison and return to Kentucky after serving more than 20 years for murdering and raping a college student will stay behind bars for now because of a new state law the victim’s family worked on with state officials.

The Mississippi measure requires felons convicted of capital murder to register as a sex offender if the crime accompanying the murder is a sexual offense. Gov. Haley Barbour signed the bill and it started immediately, delaying Douglas Hodgkin’s parole because he has to wait until a new residence is approved for him and complies with Kentucky’s home inspection laws for a released felon, Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood said Friday.

The state Parole Board voted 3-2 last month to parole Hodgkin, who was to return to his family in Kentucky upon his release.

In 1987, he was convicted of killing 24-year-old Jean Elizabeth Gillies, who was pregnant. The speech pathology graduate student at the University of Mississippi was tortured, raped and murdered in 1986.

Hodgkin, of Winchester, Ky., a junior business major at Ole Miss at the time, had dated Gillies about five weeks. He testified that someone else attacked and killed her in her Oxford apartment while he slept there.

Hodgkin’s family was then living in Magnolia, Miss. Hood said in a statement that Hodgkin’s previous residence is close to a school and no longer meets approval since he must now register as a sex offender.

Hood said the bill is the result of his office’s work with the Gillies’ family and that the new law applies retroactively to cases.

“The governor’s signature provides some peace of mind to family members of victims in these cases,” Hood said.

Bill Gillies of Davenport, Iowa, a brother of the victim, said Friday that he was disappointed that Hodgkin was close to being released. He also said he didn’t understand how Gillies could come up for parole eight times in the last 11 years.

“This man belongs to a class of criminals that has the highest recidivism rate of all criminals — sexual criminals. The probability that he will re-offend exceeds 50 percent,” Gillies said. “Everybody should be upset about him being paroled.”

Hodgkin, 43, remains in custody at the Marshall County Correctional Facility, said Tara Booth, a spokeswoman for the Mississippi Department of Corrections.

“Kentucky has asked us not to issue a travel permit until the matter is resolved,” Booth said Friday, adding that she did know how soon that would be.

Booth, who established MDOC’s division of victim services, said the new law was “clearly the right thing to do.” Booth had attended some of Hodgkin’s previous parole hearings with the Gillies family.

“This particular case has gotten to all of the people in the state,” Booth said.

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The bill is House Bill 893.

 

The Associated Press