Former Fayette Circuit Judge Armand Angelucci and his wife, Joyce, are upset because they have received word that an early medical release from prison is being sought for their son's killer.
William Bennett, described as a mildly mentally retarded paranoid schizophrenic, has been incarcerated since just after he fatally shot Joseph Angelucci, a Fayette County deputy sheriff, on Nov. 4, 1988. Angelucci, who was 24, died nearly three weeks later.
Bennett was found guilty of murder but mentally ill and was sentenced to serve up to 120 years in prison.
Jennifer Brislin, director of communications for the Kentucky Justice and Public Safety Cabinet, said Bennett, 56, was granted an early medical parole hearing that is scheduled for the week of Nov. 28.
If the parole board recommends parole, the department of corrections will work with Bennett to find appropriate placement as part of its re-entry services. If placement cannot be found, Bennett will remain in custody, Brislin said.
Brislin said she could not discuss Bennett's medical condition, but she said it meets statutory requirements for an early medical parole hearing. The statute pertaining to hearings on the parole of prisoners with documented terminal medical conditions says medical information to be considered by the parole board is limited to findings supplied by the state department of corrections medical staff. The recommendation for medical parole originates with the medical director, Brislin said.
Armand Angelucci said that, over the years, many ill inmates — including those who were terminally ill — have served out their sentences.
"He ought to be serving his time because he's a murderer of a police officer," said Angelucci, 91. A jury of Bennett's peers found him guilty of murder, and he should be compelled to serve out his time, Angelucci said.
"There have been other people in the pen ... who have been sick, who have died, and they have taken care of that situation within that department" of corrections, Angelucci said.
He said that if Bennett is being considered for early parole because of space problems within the prison system, someone jailed for a lesser offense should be released early, although he disagrees with that, too.
"This doesn't sound like a space deal," he said. "This sounds like the department of corrections wants to be relieved from taking care of a sick person."
Fayette Commonwealth's Attorney Ray Larson also opposes a hearing for Bennett.
"Here we have once again the parole board determining what a sentence is," instead of the jury that recommended the sentence or the judge who imposed the sentence, Larson said.
"They are not elected; they're political appointees," he said of parole board members. "It's just all part of Kentucky's sentencing scam."
Bennett was denied parole in 2006, and the parole board said then that the issue would be revisited in 10 years.
Bennett, a former Columbia Steak House janitor with a long history of mental illness, shot Joseph Angelucci as Angelucci was trying to take him to a mental institution. Bennett grabbed Angelucci's gun and pulled the trigger.
"The big story lately in town here has been all these shootings," said Armand Angelucci Jr. "What kind of message would we send if we release him from jail?"
Releasing Bennett "would be sending a horrible signal and would be an insult to decent, law-abiding people everywhere," he said.
Angelucci said his wife was so upset when they received news of the release hearing that she cried for hours.
"She told Joe in her prayers that she'd make darn sure he'd never get out of jail," he said.