Parole Board Frees Another Killer

by Kerry Dougherty

Last week we told you about Debra Scribner, the woman convicted of first degree murder in 2012 and released from prison earlier this month thanks to Gov. Ralph Northam’s let-em-all-out parole board.

This lucky lady served just eight years of her 23-year, 6-months sentence. She’s now back at her home on the Southside.

This week we’d like to introduce you to one more fortunate felon: Dwayne Markee Reid, 45. This Suffolk man was involved in two slayings. According to news reports in The Virginian-Pilot, “Reid was convicted in 1992 — when he was 14 — of robbing and murdering a man while he was with friends who were testing a new gun. That juvenile court verdict was later reduced to armed robbery. He served 11 months in juvenile detention before returning to the streets.”

Seven months after Reid got out of juvenile detention, he killed Thomas Runyon, 32, during a drug deal. This time he was tried as an adult.

The March 1995 news story in The Virginian-Pilot about Reid’s sentencing began this way:

Dwayne Markee Reid was involved in two murders on the same street within three years, both before he turned 17. But a judge on Thursday made sure Reid won’t return to Cullodan Street any time soon.

The newspaper quoted the prosecutor as he described what happened after Reid took Runyon’s money.

This defendant stepped back from the car, turned, pointed his gun and shot Thomas Runyon in the head. He shoots to kill and he murders Thomas Runyon for no reason. This was a killing for fun. I submit to you a killing for no other reason than to see what it felt like.

Killing for fun.

Reid was 18 at the time of his trial and the judge noted that one of the most disturbing aspects of the case was Reid’s complete lack of remorse for the murder.

Prosecutors asked for the death penalty, but the judge sentenced Reid to two life sentences instead. One for capital murder and the other for armed robbery, plus five years on firearms charges. The judge suspended one of the life sentences.

In a sane society homicidal maniacs would be locked up for life. But there doesn’t seem to be much sanity left in Richmond these days.

This convict spent 27 years in prison. But on April 3, Virginia’s parole board sent Suffolk’s Commonwealth’s Attorney, Phil Ferguson, what appears to be a terse form letter telling him that Reid had been granted parole.

The decisions of the parole board are final.

Ferguson has been sifting through similar letters about other violent criminals that are headed home. The freeing frenzy in Richmond continues.

Parole was abolished in 1995, but those sentenced before the law took effect are eligible for parole. Until recently that didn’t matter. Virginia’s parole boards almost never set violent felons free. Reid was denied parole in 2017.

“We’ve gone from a parole system, to no parole and now we’re back to the pre-1995 revolving doors,” Ferguson fumed yesterday. “Before ’95 criminals were convicted and sentenced to prison and a revolving door let them come back to the communities where we had to deal with them again and again.

“People are being released now who had life sentences or 100 years,” he continued. “These are murderers, rapists, armed robbers, people convicted of really, really serious crimes.”

“These people should never be released,” the prosecutor added. “Reid killed not one but two people. We should not be releasing him back into the same community where he committed his crimes.”

When I asked Ferguson why the parole board would make such reckless decisions, he said the releases are the result of a lenient new philosophy in Richmond.

“They see criminals as the victims,” he said of the members of the parole board. “They think everyone should get a second chance.”

“Don’t get me wrong, I’m not opposed to second chances, for some. But not for people who have committed the worst kinds of crimes.

“The parole board is interested in just getting people out of prison,” he sighed.

That’s alarming.

Next week we’ll introduce you to several more violent criminals who have been granted parole.

In the meantime, lock your doors.

And it might be a good idea to avoid Suffolk’s Culladan Street.

This column was published originally at

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42 responses to “Parole Board Frees Another Killer”

  1. James Wyatt Whitehead V Avatar
    James Wyatt Whitehead V

    I am curious if Debra Scribner and Dwayne Reid will be eligible to vote in the November 2020 election?

    1. Nancy_Naive Avatar

      No. See if you can determine why not. Your efforts will be graded.

      1. James Wyatt Whitehead V Avatar
        James Wyatt Whitehead V

        You cannot count grades in the 4th Quarter. Final grade is only calculated on Quarters 1,2, and 3.

        1. Nancy_Naive Avatar

          Oh, if I only had a dollar for every time I that one, or one like it. 403(b)? Who needs it.

      2. James Wyatt Whitehead V Avatar
        James Wyatt Whitehead V

        I believe Mr. Northam has used clemency powers to restore the voting rights of at least 22,000 felons. Case by case basis that is prioritized by the Secretary of the Commonwealth. No gun rights though. Vermont and Maine allow felons to vote while they are in prison. Who knew? The Sec of the Commonwealth also has a “Secretariat”. The greatest Virginia bred horse is named for a government secretary.

        1. Nancy_Naive Avatar

          A+ Minus 3 points for being late.

        2. Nancy_Naive Avatar

          Actually, prisoners work. They pay taxes, at least in theory. Remember “No taxation without…”

          If they cannot vote, they lack representation, and since morons, imbeciles, and idiots are represented in Congress, criminals should be too… oh wait..

    2. Dick Hall-Sizemore Avatar
      Dick Hall-Sizemore

      No released felon offender is eligible to vote unless his right to vote has been restored by the Governor.

  2. Lost in this histrionic discussion is any mention of the COVID-19 problem at the Department of Corrections that (predictably, inevitably) will spread into the surrounding communities in Virginia where these DOC employees work, but will do so even more rapidly if the concentration of covid victims is not reduced by extreme measures such as early release. It’s easy to say, these inmates are convicted criminals and by definition “bad people” and so if they remain packed together in a hotbed of covid transmission and many of them die as a result, too bad, they brought it on themselves!

    Kerry is doing a terrific job of finding the worst-case examples to rub our noses in — yes, releasing a killer to the community smells bad! What I would like to see, however, is realistic discussion of the State’s options — and their consequences. Release ’em and disperse these people, many of them covid-bearers, around the State, but spare a few criminal lives from dying behind bars? Or, keep ’em penned up like pigs for slaughter and simply cart those who die off to the potters field, while the communities in which these DOC facilities reside suffer an explosion of covid cases and Virginia experiences a community hot spot around every one? Which is the better choice? There is suffering and death — lots of deaths — either way. You tell me what you’d choose, fine, but you tell me you also knowingly accept the terrible consequences of your decision! Otherwise, you’re just taking a cheap shot, K.D., and for that I have no respect for you.

    None of us should envy Gov. Northam this decision; and I sure as hell am not going to nail him to the cross for every consequence of choosing the lesser of these evils as he saw it; for choosing what’s best for the State as a whole, in spite of the wrenching dilemmas either way.

    1. Nancy_Naive Avatar

      Unfortunately, she also neglects the homicidal maniacs who have been serving the first years of their sentence in the local jail, which is not equipped or designed for convicted felons, because of the prison overcrowding.

      Republicans have always had a problem with understanding the dichotomy of punishment AND rehabilitation. Of course, in many States they also believe that compensation of the wrongly convicted is being “soft on crime”… let ’em eat hardtack.

      1. CrazyJD Avatar


        >>Unfortunately, she also neglects the homicidal maniacs who have been serving the first years of their sentence in the local jail, …

        Not sure of your point in this first sentence.

        1. Nancy_Naive Avatar

          Releasing the old, infirm, or yes, even rehabilitated who no longer pose an ongoing threat, frees up beds in REAL prisons for newly (2 yeas ago) convicted murderers who are waiting for transfer from jails, where petty criminals and those who are still presumed innocent but cannot swing bail, are being temporarily held. Temporarily being the keyword.

          1. CrazyJD Avatar

            Still not sure of the point. Are you saying the newly convicted shouldn’t be in local jails but should instead be in prison? If so, why?

          2. Nancy_Naive Avatar

            Yes. Prisons are where they are supposed to be, by law I believe. If we are to overfill prisons we should build more, not keep violent felons in jails.

          3. CrazyJD Avatar

            Isn’t a small cell with bars in which convicted defendants are held the same whether we call it a prison or jail? Who are we saying this makes a difference to?

          4. Nancy_Naive Avatar

            DOC versus Sheriff.

          5. Dick Hall-Sizemore Avatar
            Dick Hall-Sizemore

            According to Virginia law, any offender convicted of a felony and receiving a sentence of 12 months or more is to be housed in a state prison, if there is space available. Because the Dept. of Corrections does not have enough prison beds to accommodate all the “state responsible” offenders, a significant number, approx. 4,000-5,000 must be housed in jails.

            There is a big difference in prisons and jails. Jails were designed to house offenders with relatively short sentences, a year or less. They do not have many of the features needed for those with longer sentences. At some point, I will have a longer post on the differences.

          6. Nancy_Naive Avatar

            Thanks. Looked for the exact Code for crazy, but since I really don’t feel like doing his homework, I stopped.

          7. CrazyJD Avatar

            >> DOC v. Sheriff.

            With the result that? That’s important to you because…?

            What’s the difference to the prisoner? To society? To the system? To you? Why is the design to be long or short term important? Yes, I’m playing Socratic method with you. Dick may know, but Nancy I don’t think you have a clue why you think it’s important. Instead, you complain about doing research.

          8. Nancy_Naive Avatar

            I really don’t care what you think, so chew on that. Now, go complete your mimick of Socrates, and finish it.

  3. CrazyJD Avatar

    What is missing so far is any explanation of the Parole Board’s rationale for release of this latest guy. For the first guy, we at least heard that he was a model prisoner and mentor. Is there any other information out there?

    1. Good point. I intend no defense of the parole board’s specific action, here. If there’s room left in the prison to hold this guy in relative isolation after releasing a bunch of non-violent or “model prisoner” cases, why release him too? Just saying.

  4. TooManyTaxes Avatar

    I get the idea of releasing some prisoners convicted of non-violent crimes and who have cooperated with prison rules to reduce the risks of spreading COVID-19. Of course, a prisoner with COVID-19 should be treated before any release.

    But releasing a murderer? What message does that send to anyone who is not fully Woke? Revolving door. The only true offense a Virginian can commit is to fail to pay enough taxes.

    But the political hypocrisy is amazing. We have a Governor anxious to redeem himself by catering to the extreme left. He chastises the GOP for not enacting strict gun controls; signs bills from the new Democrat-controlled GA; and then proposes to release people convicted of felony firearms offenses as the second tier of convicts to be released. To me, Northam has clearly signaled his goal is to limit the access to firearms by law-abiding citizens, while excusing firearm felons.

    We already crossed the bridge on restoring civil rights to convicts who have served their sentences. Restoring voting rights is part of that process. But what the legal justification for not restoring gun rights as well? To me, it’s very consistent with concept of releasing felons convicted of gun crimes while restricting handgun purchases. The law is out the window.

  5. CrazyJD Avatar

    >>But releasing a murderer?
    Too Many,
    I’m with you most of the way. But be careful how you phrase this argument. When you say “But releasing a murderer?”, you risk painting with too broad a brush. I think the argument is more cogent if you say, “But releasing THIS murderer?” (based on Kerry’s statement of the facts about this guy) And then you have to include the caveat, “assuming the parole board didn’t have a really terrific reason to release”

    Too often on this blog, folks including myself overstate their arguments simply by using language that is too broad.

  6. TooManyTaxes Avatar

    No, I have a problem releasing any murderer. I’m not arguing against post-conviction attempts to exonerate the convict, such as through DNA testing or to take an appeal. But when a person intentionally with or without premeditation kills another person and is convicted, he or she should serve the full sentence.

    If, for example, a person is convicted of 2nd degree murder, the sentence is not the death penalty or life. It’s 5 to 40 years. If A was convicted of 2nd degree murder and received ten years, after ten years, A should be released. But before ten years, A should not be released.

  7. Dick Hall-Sizemore Avatar
    Dick Hall-Sizemore

    As usual, Kelly Doughetry is telling one side of the story—the side designed to shock and anger people.

    The Parole Board ordinarily does not issue explanations for its decisions to grant parole and there has been no explanation in this case. About the only thing that we can be determined from a quick internet search is Reid was 16 years old when he committed his crime, which occurred during a foiled drug deal. We do not know the circumstances this 16-year old kid was in at the time of the crime; we do not know his record in prison. Because the Parole Board chose to grant him parole, I assume that he is not the same person that he was 27 years ago.

    Dougherty quotes the Chesapeake Commonwealth’s Attorney as saying, “The parole board is interested in just getting people out of prison.” A good reporter would investigate the accuracy of that statement. Here is the context. In March, the month that Reid was granted parole, the Parole Board considered 446 offenders for regular parole. It granted parole in 83 of those cases. That was a grant rate of 18.6%, admittedly higher than the annual grant rates in recent years, but hardly “just getting people of prison.” In that same group were 97 offenders considered for geriatric release. The Board granted 12 of those requests, a grant rate of 12.4%.

    For those of you wondering who constitutes the membership of the Parole Board, here are brief summaries of their backgrounds. You will see that they are not political hacks:
    • Chairman: Adrianne Bennett, appointed in 2015. She had been a public defender and had been in private law practice. Note: Bennett was the chair of the Parole Board in March. She was elected as a juvenile and domestic relations district judge by the 2020 General Assembly and stepped down from the Parole Board in April. The new chair, appointed by Governor Northam, is Tonya Chapman. She has a career in law enforcement , beginning in Arlington County, where she rose to the rank of captain. Prior to being appointed to the Parole Board, she was the chief of police in Portsmouth.
    • A.Lincoln James. First appointed in 2014. Prior to being appointed to the Board, he served as the pastor of three churches.
    • Kemba Smith Pradia. First appointed in 2019. Prior to her appointment, Pradia held the position of State Advocacy Campaigns Director with the ACLU of Virginia. The law requires at least one member of the Parole Board to be “a representative of a crime victims’ organization or a victim of crime.” Ms. Pradia fulfills that role.
    • Sherman P.Lea. First appointed in 2014. He is a 35-year veteran of the Department of Corrections, rising from parole officer to regional administrator.
    • Linda Bryant. First appointed in 2018. She served in the Norfolk Commonwealth’s attorney’s office for almost 17 years, rising to Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney. She then was appointed Deputy Attorney General for the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Division of the Office of the Attorney General. She has also served as Interim Assistant Superintendent and Compliance Attorney for the Hampton Roads Regional Jail.

    1. CrazyJD Avatar

      >>I assume that he is not the same person that he was 27 years ago.

      You’d like to think so, but I’m sure all of us know what happens when we assume.

    2. Rowinguy Avatar

      Dick, thanks so much for this studied response. Any cursory glance at the bios of the members of the Parole Board would belie the assumption that it’s a bunch of bleeding heart lefties…..

  8. James Wyatt Whitehead V Avatar
    James Wyatt Whitehead V

    One purpose of incarceration is deterrence. Will restorative justice practices damage deterrence? This has been around long enough to track now. Does the data suggest restorative justice practices work?

    1. Dick Hall-Sizemore Avatar
      Dick Hall-Sizemore

      You would need to be more specific than “restorative justice”. That term can different things to different people.

      As for deterrence generally, recent research has cast doubt on the effectiveness of long sentences as deterrence. The certainty of being incarcerated seems to function better as a deterrent than the possibility of a long sentence. See:

      1. James Wyatt Whitehead V Avatar
        James Wyatt Whitehead V

        From my understanding “restorative justice” focuses on the victim rather than the law breaker. There is victim/offender mediation. Law enforcement would still carry out the rule of law. But instead of focusing on law breaker as a person focus on the actions of the law breaker. Resources would be diverted from lengthy incarceration to tending the needs of the victim. Victims would be able to participate in the steps taken to hold the offender accountable. A plan of accountable is agreed upon by all sides. This approach to creating good behavior is very common in the public schools of Virginia. As a witness to it this in the classroom my observation is a further disregard for ordered rules because they know nothing is really going to happen to them.

  9. CrazyJD Avatar

    Are you referring to specific or general deterrence?

  10. TooManyTaxes Avatar

    The main purpose of locking up a murderer is punishment and ensuring the individual cannot once again harm society.

    The person in question was a teenager at the time of conviction. I can see some room for flexibility here if that were the end of the facts. But this guy didn’t just commit a murder. He committed two of them. The second one was after he served some time in jail. How many murders is sufficient to warrant serving the life sentence?

    1. CrazyJD Avatar

      No problem with anything you said. What you describe is called specific deterrence.

    2. TooManyTaxes Avatar

      I think we have the same understanding of words. I was thinking more along the lines of deterring others.

      1. CrazyJD Avatar

        Then Dick is right. Deterring others, “general deterrence” has a very checkered history. It almost assuredly is not a deterrence to others in death penalty cases, though those cases are dying out of their own weight, not necessarily because the penalty isn’t deserved, but because if the system makes a mistake, it can’t be fixed and so is falling into disfavor. Specific deterrence, by contrast, certainly works: if you locked up, you don’t do crime., you are specifically deterred.

  11. DickHS, the implication here from some in this discussion is that the Parole Board has changed its policy and is releasing prisoners earlier than it would have in order to clear the prisons of crowding because of the covid threat, and that it is doing this under pressure from the Governor. Now I know early release for this reason has been debated in, e.g., New York. I guess I just accepted that assumption myself. But your stats don’t bear this out as current Virginia policy. Is it? Is Northam involved at all?

  12. Rowinguy Avatar

    One might also wonder about the notation in the story about his initial murder conviction:

    “That juvenile court verdict was later reduced to armed robbery.”

    So, how did that happen? Who reduced it? Would have to have been a court determination, correct?

    Kerry, do you have an answers?

  13. Rowinguy Avatar

    Well, it took all of 2 minutes of Googling to find the answer:

    “Reid was found not innocent of murder in Juvenile Court but appealed to Circuit Court. There, murder, malicious wounding and a firearms charge were dropped. Reid was found not innocent on two armed robbery and two firearms charges.”

    The Commonwealth’s Attorney office dropped the original murder charge.

  14. James Wyatt Whitehead V Avatar
    James Wyatt Whitehead V

    I thought this was interesting. The debate surrounding deterrence of criminal activities has changed little since 1984.

    1. Nancy_Naive Avatar


  15. James Wyatt Whitehead V Avatar
    James Wyatt Whitehead V

    Speaking of 1894 I once looked over 4 months of the Roanoke Times looking for my 3rd great uncle obituary. It wasn’t digitized or even on microfilm. It was hard work turning 100 year old newspapers bound in a book. I found it. One thing I noticed was the high number of stories relating to crime. Some of the stories were just as vile as today. They dished out tough sentences in 1894. Crime and justice just seems to be wheel in Virginia. There must be a way to break this cycle.

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