Cop Killer’s Release on Hold

by Kerry Dougherty

Looks like Vincent Martin can unpack his bags. The convicted cop killer is going to spend at least another 30 days in a cell, despite the best efforts of Gov. Ralph Northam’s parole board to set him free.

Martin, 64, was scheduled to be sprung yesterday, but at the last minute the chair of the board agreed to put his release on hold for a month to give the Office of the State Inspector General time to investigate the actions of the board to determine if parole is warranted.

I can save the IG the trouble. It’s not.

All capital murderers serving life sentences should die in prison. That’s the compact that was made with society when these felons were spared the death penalty.

Life should mean life.

The parole board has been on a freeing frenzy lately, setting loose a slew of killers. Martin’s case received the most attention because news of his parole shocked the law enforcement community and brought sharp objections from Republicans in the General Assembly and Richmond’s Democratic Commonwealth’s Attorney.

The Richmond Times-Dispatch printed an excerpt of a letter sent to the governor by outraged lawmakers on Sunday:

The urgency of our request cannot be overstated. … Absent an immediate intervention by you, Vincent Martin walks free tomorrow. We owe it to the victim’s family, to the Richmond Police Department, and to all Virginians to ensure the process of granting parole is consistently legal, fair and just.

That the parole board would even consider Mr. Martin a suitable candidate for release is a cause for serious concern. But having been made aware recently of some highly irregular actions surrounding the Parole Board’s decision to release Mr. Martin, we believe further investigation is necessary before allowing his release.

When Mr. Martin was considered for parole last year, his release was not recommended.

We have been given no clear information regarding the Parole Board’s abrupt reversal on Mr. Martin’s suitability for release.

The letter was signed by House Minority Leader Todd Gilbert, R-Shenandoah, and Senate Minority Leader Tommy Norment of James City County, along with Del. Rob Bell, R-Albemarle, and Sen. Mark Obenshain, R-Rockingham, immediate past chairmen of the House and Senate courts of justice committees.

At 23, Martin was a punk. He and three of his felonious friends knocked off a 7-Eleven on the night of November 13, 1979 and were driving the wrong way on a one-way Richmond street when Patrolman Michael Conners – also 23 – stopped the car for the traffic violation. Conners didn’t know about the armed robbery.
Martin got out of the car and shot Conners in the neck.

After the officer went down Martin stood over the injured man and pumped four more rounds into his head.

Yes, this violent criminal ambushed and executed a police officer during a routine traffic stop and the hand-wringers on Virginia’s parole board believe he should get a second chance.


Twenty five years after Virginia abolished parole, Northam’s board is merrily shipping dangerous sociopaths back into society. They’ve been freeing felons who were convicted prior to 1995 and are eligible for parole.

When news broke last month that Martin was on the list to be freed, the parole board brazenly asserted that their decision had nothing to do with the COVID-19 pandemic while insisting their decision was final.

Turns out, it’s not final. And if there is a speck of sanity left in Richmond, this convict, who killed a young cop in cold blood, will remain behind bars.

This column was published originally at

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25 responses to “Cop Killer’s Release on Hold

  1. “… to give the Office of the State Inspector General time to investigate the actions of the board to determine if parole is warranted.”

    A suggestion:
    Get this State Inspector General doing something that is actually useful, and that is critically needed for the maintenance of public health and safety. Get this State Inspector investigating Virginia’s nursing homes.

  2. James Wyatt Whitehead V

    Mr. Connors would be 63 if he were alive today. Mr. Martin could be a free man in 30 days. I have such a high regard for law enforcement. I can only imagine the amplified good that could have been rendered to society if Mr. Connors had been able to complete a promising career.

  3. I oppose the death penalty for many reasons, foremost being the corruption of our criminal “justice” system. However, cop killers should die in jail. No release for any reason other than a discovery of innocence.

    • One reason to opposed the death penalty and it can be summed up with one word: Dahmer. The guy killed and ate 16 people, for god’s sake, and still only got life. You can add The Green River Killer to that too.

      • well that’s confusing? Do serial killers deserve life or death or does it also depend on if they eat their victims?

        • Disregarding the question if anyone “deserves” death more, whether a serial killer gets life or a death sentence depends on the state in which he is convicted or other circumstances. Many states do have not have a death sentence. Jeffrey Dahmer was convicted in Wisconsin. Wisconsin abolished the death penalty in 1853. Gary Ridgway, the Green River Killer, was convicted in the state of Washington. In a plea deal, he was spared the death penalty in exchange for disclosing the location of still-missing victims.

      • Too many on death row have been exonerated, often through compelling and convincing DNA evidence. Most were poor and railroaded to a conviction by unscrupulous prosecutors.

        Virginia is far from immune. And oldie from 2014 ….

        • Exonerated?! What is more amazing are the number convicted, and on death row, when the prosecutor withheld exculpatory evidence.

          New Orleans under Harry Connick Sr. comes to mind.

    • How does that supposed “corruption” occur?

    • How about Hurricane Carter?

  4. The argument against capital punishment includes: Give murderers a life sentence and they will never be free to walk the streets. So, let’s go further and let some of them go. There are many people on the left who must be categorized as pro-criminal.

    I support the death penalty in appropriately severe cases, but still think the length of the sentence should be the time served.

  5. Speaking of Martin getting out after 40 years, I see Martinovich is getting out after only 4. Of course, he’s white and only destroyed dozens of lives… so big difference.

  6. At some point, someone has to decide who will be released and who will not. We don’t get to take votes on it.

    The problem comes when the parole boards do something that makes no sense to a lot of us.

    I can only speculate that for some reason – they become so embedded in their work that they get disconnected from the outside world and then make decisions that are totally out of tune with society in general.

    At that point, there is a lot of harm done to the process itself and it drives us back to policies that actually harm those that do deserve a second chance.

    I don’t know how this happens. I don’t think it is entirely a “liberal” appointees problem.

    And I also don’t think a parole board with a “keep them all locked up” policy is good either.

    It’s just hard to see how a cop killer could every get released. I just have a hard time understanding it and in doing that – harm is done to the process… IMHO…

    • Try these reasons for considering the release of a cop killer on parole:
      1. He has served 40 years in prison.
      2. He has had an exemplary record in prison.
      3. He is not deemed to pose a threat to public safety.

      What benefit to the public does it serve to continue holding him in prison?

      • Ambushing, shooting and killing policemen in cold blood needs to be strongly discouraged. Nor should any such killer impose this presence in freedom on the kin of the dead officer ever again.

        As to:
        “He is not deemed to pose a threat to public safety.” How many times have we heard such opinions, only to end up with more criminal carnage, including rape, robbery and murder, imposed on innocent people, thanks to such opinions.

      • I think prisons like Red Onion and Wallens Ridge are inhuman and immoral even for stone cold killers. They are essentially a type of torture and I see how they get justified but they are terrible places.
        De facto torture is not justice.

        Having said that, someone who kills a cop in cold blood, I have a very difficult time being sympathetic.

        Now, I know there can be extenuating circumstances, so I’m restricting this to someone who did, in cold blood, kill a cop.

        Perhaps those who are in the prison “world” see this differently.

        People who are still violent – I have no trouble keeping them away from society for as long as it takes to keep them from harming others. Forgiving killers, especially cop killers, in my mind, has to be more than “good in prison for 40 years”. Perhaps, “forgive” is the wrong word.

        • Leviticus 24:17

          • Dick Hall-Sizemore

            If the Leviticus verse is to be followed literally, then every person who killed another in combat or for any reason should be put to death.

            As an alternative, I offer these admonitions:

            Luke 17:3
            Ephesians 4:32
            Colossians 3:13

        • Wallens Ridge and Red Onion are still grim places, but they are not as bad as they were when first opened.

      • James Wyatt Whitehead V

        Mr. Dick there is no way to untangle the mess that occurred on the night November 13, 1979. I think your logic is right. But then I think about this. Michael Patrick Connors missed everything from the last 40 years. Those were the 40 years a man gets to build a life, a family, and a legacy to leave behind. Maybe Mr. Martin can do some good for society with the freedom that is likely to come his way. It is going to be hard. Mr. Martin lost the best 40 years of his life too.

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