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Letter to the Virginia General Assembly from VACP President Chief Howard Hall Regarding the Parole Board's Decision to Release Vincent Martin

"In 2019, the General Assembly overwhelmingly passed SB1501, which requires a mandatory minimum life sentence for the capital murder of a police officer. The bill was signed into law by Gov. Northam. This law is intended to prevent the release of offenders such as Vincent Martin, a person who had already been given a second chance when he murdered Patrolman Connors."
PDF of LETTER

Members of the Virginia General Assembly,

I am writing to you on behalf of the Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police to express our strong opposition to the parole of Vincent Martin, who was convicted of killing Richmond Police Officer Michael Connors. Patrolman Connors was murdered during a traffic stop immediately after an armed robbery of a 7-11 store in Richmond. 

Evidence showed that, as Patrolman Connors approached the vehicle, Vincent Martin exited the vehicle and fired one round from a .357 magnum, which struck Patrolman Connors in the throat. As Patrolman Connors lay on the ground, Martin then emptied his revolver into Patrolman Connors' face at point-blank range. Martin had been granted an early release from prison for prior armed robbery convictions.

Martin was convicted of Capital Murder by a jury that originally sentenced Martin to death. Due to a technical error in instructions to the jury, this sentence was appealed and changed to life in prison. Martin was most recently denied parole in 2019 due to extensive criminal record, past history of violence, and the serious nature of the offense amongst other reasons. 

I have attached a copy of the letter that I recently sent to Governor Northam asking him to do two things:
  • Issue an order to stop the release of Vincent Martin
  • Initiate an investigation of the Parole Board process used to approve the parole of Vincent Martin
Patrolman Connors family has advised that they did not receive the proper notice or opportunity to provide input that is due to them under the Virginia Code. Additionally, we have received information from the Commonwealth's Attorney in Halifax County that victims in another matter recently heard by the Virginia Parole Board did not receive the proper notice and opportunity to be heard. This suggests that there are significant deficiencies in the operations of the Board that should be reviewed by an independent investigator. Given that there is a new chairperson at the Parole Board, it would be prudent to identify what problems exist so that she can determine how they should be remedied. In all cases where victims were not afforded their rights, the decisions should be reversed and reconsidered.

The parole of the person convicted of the brutal murder of a police officer is an affront to every law enforcement officer and to law-abiding citizen throughout the Commonwealth. In 2019, the General Assembly passed SB1501, which requires a mandatory minimum life sentence for the capital murder of a police officer. The bill was passed with an overwhelming majority of both the House and Senate and was signed into law by Gov. Northam. This law is intended to prevent the release of offenders such as Vincent Martin, a person who had already been given a second chance when he murdered Patrolman Connors. As our legislative body, we urge you to consider changes that would ensure that decisions like this cannot occur and that the rights of victims are always at the forefront of Parole Board judgments.

Please don't hesitate to contact me or our Executive Director, Dana Schrad, if you would like to discuss this matter further.

Thanks in advance for your consideration.

Howard B. Hall
President, Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police
Chief of Police, Roanoke County Police Department