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State opposes parole for 91-year-old Kansas inmate

Published on -6/24/2012, 3:54 PM

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TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) -- A 91-year-old Kansas inmate convicted in a botched murder-for-hire is asking for a second time to be paroled from his life sentence.

But when he meets next month with the Kansas Prisoner Review Board, Joseph Johnson will have to persuade the members of several things, including his acceptance of responsibility for a shooting that left an unintended target dead.

And he'll have to overcome the objections of Matt Patterson, an assistant Shawnee County district attorney who never thought he would be asking the state to keep a 91-year-old man in prison, The Topeka Capital-Journal reported (http://bit.ly/MNDqk1 ).

"But I've got to with Joseph Johnson," Patterson told the parole board Thursday. "The facts of his case are about as chilling as anything I've seen."

No one spoke in favor of parole for Johnson, who is held at El Dorado Correctional Facility serving various sentences for seven crimes including first-degree murder.

Johnson was 71 when Topeka resident Robert S. Walton hired him in 1992 to arrange the killing of his estranged wife, Betty Parrett.

Johnson paid $300 to 16-year-old Dominic Love to carry out the attack. According to court testimony, Johnson drove the teen to the address they'd been given and gave him the gun that Love fired point-blank at the man who opened the apartment door -- 48-year-old Chang Nam Kim.

The address was right, but Betty Parrett had moved out sometime earlier. Kim was the new tenant.

Patterson told review board members that Johnson had initially arranged for three other young males to carry out a drive-by shooting at the house, which was unsuccessful.

"I think the seedy thing about this is he wasn't going to get his own hands dirty," Patterson said. "He was going to have basically high school-age boys do this for him."

Walton, Johnson and Love all went to prison. Walton died in state custody at age 63 in September 2007. Love, now 36, is an inmate at Norton Correctional Facility.

The parole board denied Johnson's first request in 2009, the first year he was eligible. The board said it based its decision at the time on public objections to Johnson's release, his denial of responsibility for the crime, the violent nature of the crime and the serious nature and circumstances of the crime.

Johnson is the second-oldest inmate in the Kansas prison system, said Jan Lunsford, spokesman for the Kansas Department of Corrections.

The only Kansas inmate older than Johnson is Francis Patrick Doyle, whose 93rd birthday was Saturday. Doyle is at Lansing Correctional Facility serving time on 1999 Johnson County convictions for first-degree murder, attempted second-degree murder and aggravated burglary.

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