Alabama Governor Kay Ivey Says Judith Ann Neelley Should NOT be Released

Gov. Kay Ivey has made a passionate statement against the possible parole of a woman convicted of killing a child four decades ago, saying she “categorically and unequivocally” opposes freedom for Judith Ann Neelley.

In a two-page letter to the Alabama Board of Pardons and Paroles, Ivey said Neelley “should not be allowed to set foot outside of an Alabama prison.”

“It has been said that ‘mercy to the guilty is cruelty to the innocent,’” Ivey wrote, “and I wholeheartedly agree.”

Neelley, 59, is set for a parole hearing Thursday.

Lisa Ann Millican, 13, was abducted from a shopping mall in Rome, Ga., in September 1982 by Neelley and her husband, Alvin Neelley. Judith Ann Neelley was later found guilty of the rape and murder of Lisa.

Neelley was first set for a parole hearing in May 2018; but, her lawyer at the time said she wanted to waive the hearing. Ivey wrote a letter on that occasion opposing parole. The hearing went forward that month and the board deliberated for just one minute before denying parole.

Even if Neelley is granted parole by the three-member board later this month, she still has a pending warrant in Georgia for a consecutive life sentence in a 1999 kidnapping case.

She pleaded guilty in Georgia for the murder of 22-year-old Janice Chatman, also of Rome, Ga. In that case, she pleaded guilty and agreed to testify against her husband. Alvin Neelley died in prison in Georgia in 2005.

Neelley was originally sentenced to death in Millican’s death, but her sentence was commuted to life in prison by former Alabama Gov. Fob James before he left office in 1999. However, James’ order did not specify whether Neelley would be eligible for parole. The legislature changed state law in 2003 specifically to block Neelley from the possibility of parole, but a federal judge years later ruled that law unconstitutional.

In her letter, Ivey said James’ commutation was a “mistake” and described the crime that sent Neeley to jail as “pure evil.” You can read the complete text of the letter here.

The Neelleys held 13-year-old Lisa captive, according to court records, and Alvin Neelley raped the girl several times. Three days after the abduction, Judith Ann Neelley handcuffed Lisa to a tree at Little River Canyon in Alabama’s DeKalb County and used a needle and syringe to inject her repeatedly with drain cleaner. When that failed to kill the young girl, she shot her and pushed her body into the canyon.

An Alabama jury convicted Neelley of capital murder and recommended a sentence of life without parole, but the judge sentenced her to death.

In her letter, Ivey said the board should not forget the “depravity of her crimes.”

“Do not overlook the continuing threat to public safety Ms. Neelley would pose if she were ever let out of prison,” she wrote. “And do not disregard the overwhelming consensus of our state government that someone convicted of capital murder and sentenced to death should never walk the streets of Alabama again.”



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