- Associated Press - Friday, October 31, 2014

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - A Nebraska inmate who likely saved a guard’s life while incarcerated will not have an opportunity to argue for his release.

The State Board of Pardons voted 3-0 on Thursday to deny a commutation hearing request by Ted Parsons, an ex-Air Force officer who’s now 71. He was sentenced to life in prison for the 1986 fatal shooting of his girlfriend, Jill Garlock.

Garlock was a physical education teacher at Burke High School and had tried to break up with Parsons before the shooting, the Omaha World-Herald (https://bit.ly/1xHMBvA ) reported.

Parsons was in prison for five years before several other inmates trying to escape stabbed and a guard and set him on fire. Parsons removed his shirt and helped put out the flames with the help of another inmate. He said at the time that his act didn’t “offset” his crime, but that it was “meaningful to me.”

Thursday marked the first time Parsons asked for a commutation hearing. In a handwritten note, Parsons wrote to the board that “the death resulted from an unusually, emotionally, severe argument and my losing it mentally.”

“I regret it from the instant it happened,” his note stated.

During their meeting, the board also rejected every commutation request from those convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison without parole. The panel rarely commutes, or reduces, first-degree murder sentences. They have done so only three times in the last 24 years.

Secretary of State John Gale, one of the board members, said he didn’t find the necessary “mitigating” factors to give Parsons a commutation hearing.

“Our job is to also consider the public interest and public safety,” Gale said.

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Information from: Omaha World-Herald, https://www.omaha.com

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