But try as I might, I can't wrap my brain around the Parole Board's decision to give Douglas Hodgkin early release.
Hodgkin tortured Jean Elizabeth Gillies for hours before killing her back in 1986, in her Oxford apartment. The evidence showed he bound, raped and sodomized her, beat her with a blunt object, then finally strangled the life out of her with a barehanded chokehold.
Somewhere along the way, he found it necessary to smear her body with fistfuls of her own feces. (Sorry for presenting that mental picture at breakfast, but everything about this case should upset our digestion.)
No one I've been able to contact about the case doubts Hodgkin's guilt. He waited hours after Gillies was cold before calling for an ambulance. When police arrived with the paramedics, he first told investigators that Gillies had committed suicide but then kept changing his story.
Jurors had no problem agreeing on Hodgkin's guilt, but the son of a Winchester, Ky., banker was spared the death penalty by one juror's vote at sentencing. Had he been sentenced in 1995 or later, he would have surely gotten at least life without parole, but that option was not available in 1987.
Hodgkin was denied parole seven times; after the eighth hearing he was granted early release.
So what changed?
What makes someone who is capable of such horror a good candidate to be out among peace-loving people?
How is society benefited by letting Douglas Hodgkin walk free?
How could the Parole Board vote to let this monster out when it's only a legal technicality - a technicality that the Legislature finally fixed - that makes him even eligible to be considered for release?
Parole Board Chairwoman Shannon Warnock said she was unable to sleep for days after she last saw photos of Gillies' body and the crime scene.
Given that the perpetrator of this atrocity is about to be a free man, residents of Oxford and Winchester share that feeling.
The Parole Board's number is (601) 354-7716. The Governor's Office is (601) 359-3150 or (877) 405-0733.
Contact Daily Journal Oxford Bureau reporter Errol Castens at (662) 281-1069 or email@example.com.