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Kentucky Parole Board rescinds controversial policy

Kentucky’s attorney general filed a lawsuit to block the policy. That lawsuit is now moot.
Kentucky’s attorney general filed a lawsuit to block the policy. That lawsuit is now moot.(Allie Hennard)
Published: Jul. 1, 2021 at 4:34 PM EDT
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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WKYT) - The Kentucky Parole Board is rescinding a controversial policy change that would have given convicted murderers a second shot at parole.

Families of victims have been fighting the proposed directive, saying they had no notice it was even being considered. They say they now have peace that they won’t have to go through another parole hearing.

This month marks 27 years since Tom Toney went missing in Ashland and was found dead 33 days later in the woods.

“The emotions then, it was disbelief,” said David Toney, Tom’s son.

In December 1994, Roy Stanley Pearce, the man convicted for kidnapping and killing Tom, was sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole after 25 years. He was denied parole in November.

“I had a picture of him hanging up on the bulletin board at work and I took it down, took it to my sister’s and we all got together and we burned it. My exact words to her were ‘we never have to deal with him again,’” David said.

But just months later, the Kentucky Parole Board had announced that policy change that said inmates could not be ordered to serve out a life sentence at their first hearing, giving Pearce and dozens of other convicted murderers another shot at freedom.

“These people were able to start healing and put their lives back together. When this happened, it just ripped everything back open,” David said.

On Thursday, the parole board issued a letter (read below) rescinding the directive. They also filed a motion asking for a lawsuit to be filed because of the directive to be dismissed.

David says he’s relieved that his family and dozens of others don’t have to go through another parole hearing.

“It was hard. And it was kind of like when we were in the military. You go through something that not a lot of people can identify with, and you just build a bond,” David said.

David says he is looking to start a foundation now to help other families who lose a loved one to a violent crime.

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