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Governor: Decision to parole is board's responsibility

Phillip Dewoody.jpg
Posted at 6:17 PM, Mar 05, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-06 12:25:35-05

The family of a Ville Platte woman whose body was found this week is hoping her death will bring about change to the criminal justice system.

Joyce Thomas who could not hear or speak was found dead in St. Landry Parish.

Police say she was kidnapped by Phillip Dewoody who was paroled last June amid a 117-year prison sentence for a number of crimes including kidnapping and armed robbery.

His parole board were all appointed by Governor John Bel Edwards.

The Governor's Office said he never saw Phillip Dewoody's case. His office said the Parole Board is its own entity and the decision to grant parole is solely up to the board.

"I stand by them," Edwards said. "If you look at the track record over the course of the time that they've been serving. As for any individual case, I don't answer questions. You'd have to go back to them."

Dewoody was first eligible for parole in 2013 because of ACT 790.

It allows parole consideration for some inmates who have been sentenced to 30 years or more, have served at least 20 years and have reached the age of 45.

In the June 2019 parole hearing, there was a mention of law enforcement and Dewoody's victims objecting to his parole.

Parole Board Member Pearl Wise said, "There has been victim opposition expressed. There's nothing you can do about that, it still shows up."

We asked Governer Edwards if he plans to look at the board and consider changing their guidelines to look at violent offenders closer. The Governor said, "Well, they're doing that now and they have guidelines that they follow now. As it relates to specific cases, you're going to have to direct your questions to the Department of Corrections and the board."

We have been communicating with the Board of Pardons throughout the week, and they've made several documents available to us regarding this case. We are also sending some specific questions that we'll update this story with later today.