Relatives of the victims are happy that their efforts will keep a convicted murderer behind bars, but are disappointed they will have to repeat the process in three years.
Patricia Brigman, of Carl Junction, said family members were notified Thursday that John Steven Martin, convicted of killing their relatives in separate robberies 37 years ago, will remain behind bars.
Victims’ relatives testified Aug. 23 at Moberly Corrections Center as part of a parole hearing for Martin, formerly of Carthage, arguing against his release from prison. Another hearing will be held in three years, though the parole board could have pushed that deadline back as far as five years, Brigman said.
“I’m in disbelief his parole is not for the maximum of five years,” she said, noting Martin had been convicted twice of first-degree murders.
Martin was 19 years old in April 1976 when he was assessed a second life sentence after he was convicted in the death of Leroy Spencer, 24, during a robbery of a Rolla service station. In March 1975, a life sentence was imposed in Jasper County after Martin was convicted of kidnapping and killing Carthage liquor store owner James Stemmons after robbing his business.
Brigman, the sister of Leroy Spencer, said she was unable to attend the hearing because of an illness in her family. She said she sent a letter of opposition and other materials, which were presented by Debra Stemmons Smith, of Kansas City, who is the oldest daughter of James Stemmons.
“They also presented an online petition that had been signed by about 1,500 people,” she said.
At the request of the families, a letter opposing parole also was sent from the office of Dean Dankelson, Jasper County prosecuting attorney. The prosecutor noted that Martin’s crimes — two murders arising out of two robberies — would have made have made him ineligible for parole under current law.
Brigman said the victims’ families had urged the parole board to keep Martin behind bars for the longest possible term, which would be five years.
“It’s painful that we have to go through this every three years and that this is the way we have to remember them. That we have to remember their death, and not their life,” she said.
Brigman said her brother was shot Oct. 16, 1974, when he had stopped at a service station in Rolla. She said the station attendant was shot three times and survived.
Martin was convicted of killing Stemmons in a liquor store robbery in Nov. 21, 1974. After taking money, robbers forced Stemmons into his pickup truck and drove to a wooded area southeast of Carthage, where Stemmons was shot once in the back and three times in the head.
Two others were convicted in connection with the Carthage crime. They served three-year sentences and were released.
- Top Stories
Brownback plan to shift funds to reading draws mixed reviews
Gov. Sam Brownback has proposed a new initiative for some Southeast Kansas school districts, to be funded with $12 million from federal assistance funds aimed at low-income families, in an effort to raise fourth-grade reading scores. How much each district might receive and when is not yet known, but it could be as early as next semester.
3 To Get Ready
Three things coming your way in Thursday’s Joplin Globe.
St. Mary’s church, school awarded $300,000 grant from foundation
St. Mary’s Catholic Church and its elementary school, which were destroyed in the 2011 tornado, have received a $300,000 grant from the Community Foundation of Southwest Missouri.
CANCELLATIONS: Organizations postpone parades, events in advance of expected winter storm
With a cold front forecast to the Four State Area that is accompanied by freezing rain, snow and sleet and temperatures in the single digits, several cities have rescheduled Christmas parades and are canceling or postponing community events.
Small MSSU group envisions profile of next president
Strong listening and communication skills and the desire to better Missouri Southern State University are among the qualities that stakeholders want to see in the next university president, they said Tuesday in a lightly attended open meeting.
Joplin panel backing three city charter changes
Out of the nine proposed changes submitted for its study, members of Joplin’s Charter Review Commission have endorsed three. The panel will advance proposals that City Council members’ pay be increased, that years of residency be decreased as a qualification to run for the council, and that a requirement that the public works director be a professional engineer be removed.
First winter storm of season to bring single-digit temps, snow, sleet through weekend
Three to six inches of snow are forecast by late Friday, with more to follow Sunday.
3 To Get Ready
Three things coming your way in Wednesday’s Joplin Globe.
NIST to release Joplin tornado investigation
A scientific and technical investigation into the May 22, 2011, tornado that struck Joplin will be released for public comment on Thursday by the U.S. Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).
Joplin Schools assistant superintendent to resign
Joplin Schools Assistant Superintendent Angie Besendorfer has announced her plans to resign from Joplin Schools and accept a position as chancellor of WGU Missouri in January.
- More Top Stories Headlines
- Brownback plan to shift funds to reading draws mixed reviews