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WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 17, 2007
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Violent offender out of prison
Community corrections
status alarms victim

By Sheryl Marsh
smarsh@decaturdaily.com 340-2437

A woman a jury convicted of a violent crime is out of prison and in Morgan County Community Corrections.

The victim in the case is terrified.

Circuit Judge Glenn Thompson said he's reviewed the early release of Carol McPherson and she's eligible for the program.

Meanwhile, the victim, Lisa Bragg Walden, said she's living in fear.

"I didn't think people of violent crimes could be in community corrections," Walden said.

Thompson said although officials often refer to the law that governs community corrections in blanket terms, there are specific crimes.

"We generically refer to it as violent crimes, but the law states the crimes," Thompson said.

Walden contacted The Daily and said she was a victim of McPherson shooting into her home and wounding her.

"I'm scared to go out of the house," said Walden. "She shot into our home, and shot me, and could have shot my children and husband."

Walden said officials did not notify her in accordance with state law about McPherson's release Sept. 5.

"The first time I heard she was being released was in July," Walden said. "I called the district attorney's office and was told that her release date was Sept. 11, 2010. Then, when I called again after she got out, Joyce Payne (crime victims officer) told me she was still in prison. She checked the computer and saw that she was in community corrections."

Walden said David Sloan, acting director of community corrections, denied her information when she called and talked with him last week.

"He was rude. He told me that he didn't have to tell me anything," Walden said. "He told me he talked to me before and he hadn't. He told me to stop calling."

Sloan denied being rude to Walden, but later Walden said he called and apologized.

"He said he had talked to The Daily and the judge," Walden said. "He apologized to me and my husband."

Sloan said he checked the records and District Attorney Bob Burrell's office was not notified of the release.

Burrell confirmed that he did not receive notification.

Sloan said ex-director Alison Nix processed the case for McPherson's release.

Records show that the state Department of Corrections sent a letter of recommendation for McPherson's release and Thompson issued an order placing her in the program.

"I got the recommendation from DOC," Thompson said. "We have a contract with the department for community corrections. She had good behavior in prison and she is eligible."

Although McPherson's crime involved violence, it is only crimes such as murder, kidnapping and rape that disqualify a defendant from the program.

McPherson is on curfew checks, the least of the program's home monitoring components .

"I don't know why she wasn't placed on the ankle bracelet monitoring," said Sloan.

McPherson's criminal file shows that a jury in Sept. 29, 2004 convicted her of shooting into Walden's home in Nov. 29, 2001. Thompson sentenced her to 15 years and denied her probation request in February 2005. She remained free on bond during an appeal of the case. Once the state Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed the conviction, she started serving the prison sentence in January 2006.

Thompson said her prison sentence would have ended in 2010 and she probably would have been released on parole next year.

"The good thing about it is that she wound up being under court supervision until the end of her sentence which is 2010," said Thompson.

Restitution

McPherson owes Walden restitution, too.

"She hasn't made one payment," Walden said. "I wonder when she'll start paying that.

Thompson said he ordered the restitution, but it's not up to him to collect.

The judge said once McPherson begins working and does not pay, Walden may take civil action to get the money. She could file a petition with the circuit clerk to garnish McPherson's wages or file an execution to take personal property of the defendant. Thompson explained that it would be sold at a public auction at the courthouse.

The restitution amount is $2,209.22, according to Burrell.

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