By SHELIA BYRD
The Associated Press
JACKSON - A Jackson attorney is asking lawmakers to intervene in the release of a prisoner convicted of killing a pregnant Ole Miss student two decades ago.
Douglas Hodgkin was convicted in 1987 of capital murder in the 1986 slaying of Jean Elizabeth Gillies. Both were students at the University of Mississippi, and the killing happened in Oxford.
The state Parole Board voted 3-2 last month to release Hodgkin if Kentucky, where his family lives, agrees to supervise his parole. Hodgkin has served 22 years of a life sentence. He was sentenced before Mississippi enacted a life-without-parole law.
Attorney Chris Ganner believes Mississippi law, depending on its interpretation, prohibits Hodgkin's release. Under current law, at least three of the board's five members must vote in favor of release for an inmate convicted of murder or a sex crime to receive parole.
But Ganner said the law requiring three votes was written when the board had only three members.
"The spirit of that statute is that it requires a unanimous vote," said Ganner, who was a friend of Gillies.
But Jan Schaefer, a spokeswoman for Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood, said in an e-mail to The Associated Press that "the law is pretty clear, regardless of how many members are on the board."
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.
Hodgkin has had seven previous parole hearings.
Ganner said he has forwarded his information to House Corrections Committee Chairman Bennett Malone, D-Carthage, and Rep. Frances Fredericks, D-Gulfport.
"There are several interested in the conduct of the Parole Board and hopefully they're going to hold a hearing on it," Ganner said.
The Senate already has taken steps to restrict the parole release of some offenders. A bill that passed last week would require the governor to hold a public hearing before exercising a pardon. It also would require a unanimous vote by the parole board to release a felon convicted of capital murder and a sex crime.
The bill was held for more debate in the Senate. It would have to go back to the House for more work.