The sister of convicted killer William Bennett said Thursday that she doesn't think her brother will live long enough for his early medical parole hearing.
Carnetta Davis of Lexington said her brother has been gravely ill since August and might not be alive by the week of Nov. 28, when the parole hearing is scheduled.
Bennett, 56, was sentenced to up to 120 years in prison for the 1988 shooting death of Fayette County Deputy Sheriff Joseph Angelucci. Bennett, who was housed at the state reformatory near La Grange, is now shackled to a bed in a long-term care facility in Louisville, unable to move and unaware of his surroundings, his sister said.
"He is bad off sick. He's really in a coma. The breathing machine is breathing for him," she said. She said prison authorities contacted her in late August about her brother's medical condition, first saying he had pneumonia, then saying he'd had a heart attack and later saying he'd had a stroke.
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"He kept having seizures to his brain," she said. "I don't know how long he's going to last."
Davis said she sought early parole for her brother and didn't give up on it.
Jennifer Brislin, director of communications for the Kentucky Justice and Public Safety Cabinet, said Wednesday that she could not discuss Bennett's medical condition but that it met statutory requirements for an early medical parole hearing.
She said if the state parole board decides to release Bennett, the state corrections department would work to find an appropriate placement for him. If placement cannot be found, Bennett will remain in the custody of the corrections department, Brislin said.
News of the hearing has upset Angelucci's parents, former Fayette Circuit Judge Armand Angelucci and Joyce Angelucci.
"They suffered a loss, too," Armand Angelucci said Thursday of Bennett's family. But Bennett should stay in prison, he said.
"We have no ill will toward William Bennett's family," said Armand Angelucci Jr., son of the former judge.
Davis said she didn't understand the Angelucci family's "wanting to put up a fuss."
"How's he even going to be a threat? They (the Angeluccis) don't understand. How's it going to be a threat, this man laying there dying?" Davis said.
"All of it is in God's hands," she said.
"If God wants to take him, let him. But he can take him from jail," Armand Angelucci Jr. said. "What in the world is wrong with keeping a convicted murderer in jail to serve out the sentence they've been given? It's a tough situation, but we just don't have any sympathy for him. We have sympathy for his family."
Angelucci Jr. said one of the many reasons for the fuss is that Bennett's family has been able to visit and interact with Bennett in prison for the past 23 years, while the Angelucci family has been able to interact only with a tombstone and grass.
"We have no ill will toward his family. We're sorry for all they've had to go through," he said. But, he said, it's not acceptable for Bennett to be released after serving so little of his sentence.
"We know the prisons are full of people that are ill, and they're prepared to take care of them," he said.
Davis said if her brother is still living when the hearing is held and is granted parole, she doesn't know where he would go.
"I don't think he'll come up out of that hospital bed," she said.
Bennett was denied parole in 2006 and was not scheduled to go before the parole board again until 2016.
Bennett, who has been described as mildly mentally retarded and paranoid schizophrenic, shot Joseph Angelucci, 24, on Nov. 4, 1988, as Angelucci tried to take him to a mental institution. Bennett grabbed the deputy's gun and pulled the trigger. Angelucci died about three weeks later.
Initially, Bennett was found incompetent to stand trial. But a judge ordered him to undergo a second competency test, and he passed that one. A jury trial was held in 1989.
Witnesses testified that Bennett, who had been taken to a mental institution three times before the shooting, was delusional. They said he sometimes thought he was a nuclear scientist or Cuban dictator Fidel Castro's twin.
Bennett's relatives said his mental problems arose after he found his mother's bludgeoned body when he was 10. Bennett's mother was killed by her boyfriend, they said.
Prosecutors sought the death penalty for Bennett. The jury found him guilty of murder but mentally ill, and recommended that he serve an indeterminate sentence not to exceed 120 years.