Willie Doyle set to be released despite fight by district attorn - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Willie Doyle set to be released despite fight by district attorney's office

Willie Doyle, (Source: Georgia Department of Corrections) Willie Doyle, (Source: Georgia Department of Corrections)

Willie Doyle, 55, was convicted and sentenced in the robbery, rape and murder of a 67-year-old Savannah woman back in 1977.

Records show Doyle, with several others, robbed the woman of $1.50, then sexually assaulted her and murdered her. However, the State Board of Pardons and Paroles officials have notified the District Attorney’s Office in Chatham County that they plan to parole Doyle.

Doyle was planned to be released on December 21, but after District Attorney Meg Heap, SCMPD and Savannah City Council members wrote a letter objecting that release, the board halted the parole.

The board did reconsider the request of the DA’s office and replied on January 4, 2016 in a letter.

“Based on your objection, his case was resubmitted to the board for reconsideration,” said Thurman Henderson, the board chairman. “After careful review, the Board has decided to proceed with its previous decision to parole inmate Willie Doyle.”
The board cited numerous reasons including the fact Doyle had served 38 years of his sentence,
the improvement that they say Doyle has shown over the past decade and that Doyle has not had any disciplinary action in the past two years. They also said that Doyle had completed his work-release program.

However, Heap completely disagrees.

"I would say that their statement is simply not true. He has had infractions and a disciplinary action that he is not obeying the people that are put there to supervise him. What do we expect when we let him out?" asked Heap. "It is just so disappointing because this is not a model citizen. This person had 600 pages of disciplinary reports while in prison. Some actions on all of them."
Heap says Doyle’s history of repeated violations as a prisoner should prevent him from being a candidate for parole. Heap says her office is selective in which cases they challenge and this one she felt was very obvious.

"We get them into the prison system and they are letting them right back out. I feel like we keep putting our fingers into different holes to stop the crime and it is like we shouldn't on this one. You need to follow and look at this carefully. Over the years that he has been in there he has not just not followed the rules, he has extensive record while in prison," said Heap.
The State Board of Pardons and Paroles say that Doyle will have the highest level of supervision from the Department of Community Supervision. He will also be required to wear an electronic ankle monitor. 
"Those violent offenders are held to a higher standard. They have specific conditions of their release. Those conditions are tailored to that individuals risk and needs. We assign a member from our Department of Community Supervision to watch over that individual," said Chris Barnett, director for parole.

However, that still leaves many in shock about how the decision was made.
"Anyone that is on that parole board that can sit there and say this man will not commit violence again is beyond me," said Tom Bordeaux, former city councilmen and current attorney.
Heap says that her office can do no more when it comes to Doyle.

"Nope, nope. There is nothing we can do," said Heap.

Heap does say her office will now try and get new legislation that will hopefully make it harder for criminals to be granted parole.

In the meantime, an exact date for Doyle’s release has not been set. The letter from Pardons and Paroles simply stated that it would notify the district attorney when a date was set.

“You will be notified of his actual parole date when it is set,” said Henderson.

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