Let’s see, who’s next on the Virginia Parole Board’s Get-Out-of-Jail-Free conveyor belt?
Oh look, it’s Irvian Cotton. Another murderer serving a life sentence.
They’re getting out of prison so fast, I’ve lost count of how many violent criminals have been sent home in recent weeks.
If you were in these parts back in 1985 you may remember Cotton. He reportedly roughed up his wife on Dec. 3, 1985. She had him arrested and moved out of their house with her two kids.
On December 17, 1985 – the day before prosecutors say 28-year-old Zsa Zsa Cotton was scheduled to testify against her husband – Irvian forced his way into her parents’ Suffolk home.
According to news reports, Cotton shot her three times at point-blank range in front of her children, ages 4 and 8.
Who wouldn’t want someone like that to get a second chance at happiness?
Suffolk Commonwealth’s Attorney Phil Ferguson, for one. He’s the prosecutor who helped put this killer in prison.
“This is the kind of inmate the parole board is releasing,” he fumed yesterday. “These are not friendly, nice people. These are the worst of the worst… He should never get out of prison.”
Cotton pleaded guilty to first degree murder and a weapons charge in September of 1986 and was sentenced to life plus two years.
“What more brutal act can any person commit than the systematic execution of a mother in the presence of her two children?” Ferguson asked the court at the time.
The brutality of Cotton’s crime didn’t matter to the parole board though. On April 3, the board sent Ferguson a form letter telling him that Cotton would be released within 30 days “or after the completion of a re-entry program.”
Ferguson said he didn’t know if Cotton had yet been released.
At the time of his parole hearing, the prisoner was residing at the Greensville Correctional Center. When I searched for him by both name and inmate number on Virginia’s “Inmate Locator” website, he didn’t show up.
That could mean he’s already out.
“How the parole board can justify this is beyond me,” Ferguson said. “But this isn’t just the parole board, this is coming from the Northam administration.”
In fact, yesterday afternoon The Richmond Times-Dispatch reported that the governor rejected a plea from GOP lawmakers for a moratorium on the freeing of violent felons.
“The Governor and his administration have worked tirelessly to create a fairer and more equitable criminal justice system, and safe parole is an important part of that work,” a Northam spokesman said in response to the request.
The Suffolk prosecutor said he had no problem with the governor until Ralph Northam lurched to the far left after his blackface scandal.
“Now he’s listening to groups like the ACLU,” Ferguson speculated. “And the ACLU doesn’t think like normal people do. They don’t care about victims or the family of victims. All they care about are criminals.”
He has a point.
Alarmed by the death of five inmates from COVID-19, the ACLU of Virginia yesterday ramped up pressure on the governor to release even more prisoners using his clemency power rather than waiting for the parole board.
And killing a mother in front of her kids? That’s as heinous as it gets.
This column was published originally at www.kerrydougherty.com.