JACKSON – State Parole Board officials say a 43-year-old man convicted of killing a pregnant University of Mississippi graduate student in 1986 may soon join his family in Kentucky.
Douglas Hodgkin was convicted in 1987 of capital murder in the death of Jean Elizabeth Gillies.
Parole Board member Betty Lou Jones said in a statement Wednesday that the board voted earlier this month to release Hodgkin if Kentucky agrees to supervise his parole.
Hodgkin, who has family in Kentucky, has been incarcerated since 1987 and has served 22 years of a life sentence. He was sentenced before Mississippi adopted of a life-without-parole law.
Gillies’ family members are disappointed.
“It is absolutely unbelievable,” said Gillies’ sister, Doreen Gillies Passmore of Johnson City, Tenn. “My sister was a fine person who had her whole life ahead of her. And he (Hodgkin) could have done something good in the world instead of taking my sister’s life.”
Authorities have said Gillies was about eight weeks’ pregnant. They said her hands were tied behind her and she was gagged.
During his trial, Hodgkin, who had dated Gillies for about five weeks, testified someone else attacked and killed her in her Oxford apartment while he slept there.
Hodgkin, of Winchester, Ky., was a junior business major at Ole Miss at the time of the slaying. Gillies, 24, was a graduate student in speech pathology. Her family lived in Magnolia at the time.
Hodgkin had seven previous parole hearings. Gillies family members appeared at each one to oppose his release.
Hodgkin’s father, Bill Hodgkin, said Gillies’ family has been through a tragedy, though his son has served his time.
“We asked the parole board to release Douglas to Kentucky,” the elder Hodgkin said. “The parole board considered that he has been incarcerated for 22 years and has been a model inmate.”
Mississippi Department of Corrections officials say Hodgkin doesn’t have any violations on his record.
MDOC officials said it normally takes about two months from the time the state Parole Board votes to release an inmate, whose supervision will be transferred to another state, for that individual to be freed from custody.
The Associated Press