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McDonnell rejects latest appeal from Soering

- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell has turned down Jens Soering yet again — this time denying the convicted killer's request that he be recommended for parole.

The governor said Tuesday he won't intervene in a decision made by the state parole board last August, when it rejected a sixth request for parole from Soering, a German national convicted of killing his girlfriend's parents in 1985.

"Nothing in the information provided by Soering or his attorney provides any basis for me to doubt the judgment of the jury in this case or the veracity of Soerings own confessions," said Mr. McDonnell, a Republican.

Soering petitioned Mr. McDonnell in January to consider a recent DNA test that he says supports his argument that he was not at the crime scene. He sued the governor that same month for reversing a decision made by former Gov. Tim Kaine to transfer him back into German custody — and possible release after two years.

Mr. McDonnell reiterated what he has said all along; namely, that for justice to be done, Soering must remain in Virginia.

"Additionally, to the extent that Soerings petition is a request for a pardon or any other form of clemency, that request is also denied," Mr. McDonnell said. "Consistent with my statement last year denying his transfer to Germany, it is imperative that Soering serve out his punishment in the Commonwealth of Virginia."

Soering has lately emerged as something of a political liability for Mr. Kaine, a Democrat, in his U.S. Senate race against former Sen. George Allen, a Republican. In response to GOP criticism of his unpopular decision, Mr. Kaine has said his attempt to release Soering was based on a desire to save state money on incarceration and an expectation that he wouldn't run for office again.

"After more than 20 years of imprisonment in Virginia, I thought imprisonment in Germany was the right recommendation," he told The Washington Times last week.

The son of a German diplomat, Soering was convicted by a Bedford County Circuit Court jury of two counts of first-degree murder in a case that made international headlines.

Soering has long maintained his innocence and has written a series of contemplative books from prison. He has said that his girlfriend, Elizabeth Haysom, killed her parents, and that he confessed to spare her the death penalty. Soering also has said he thought at the time that he was entitled to diplomatic immunity and would be extradited to Germany and sentenced as a juvenile to less than 10 years.

Now 44, he has been eligible for parole since 2003 and goes up for consideration later this year.

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