LOUISVILLE — A Death Row inmate was allowed last month to argue for his release before the Kentucky Parole Board — a hearing that officials now agree should not have taken place.
The Kentucky Department of Corrections, and attorneys involved in the case, said the Parole Board erred in allowing John Mills, 41, to argue for his freedom.
The Oct. 28 hearing, which state officials said was a first involving a death row inmate in Kentucky, came several weeks after Knox County Circuit Judge Roderick Messer threw out Mills' death sentence for the August 1995 stabbing death of 79-year-old Arthur L. Phipps in Knox County.
Mills remained under a death sentence at the time of the hearing because prosecutors and Mills' lawyer had appealed to the Kentucky Supreme Court, and Messer's order was automatically stayed. But no written order was issued, so it was not in the file for Mills that went to the Parole Board, according to attorneys in the case.
Todd Henson, a spokesman for the Kentucky Department of Corrections, said the Parole Board erred in granting Mills the hearing at the Kentucky State Penitentiary in Eddyville.
Asked why the Parole Board or staff didn't double-check the status of Mills' death sentence, Henson said the problem was being addressed.
Henson said the board looked into Mills' status after The Associated Press questioned how a death row inmate received a parole hearing. The board voted 2-0 to defer action on Mills' case for five years.