Protesting a parole recommendation for a man convicted of shooting an OHP trooper

Thursday, January 22nd 2004, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

Some folks are on a parole protest after Oklahoma's state parole board recommended parole for a man who shot at a state trooper 14 times. Governor Brad Henry has the final say.

The Oklahoma Highway Patrol trooper and his friends not only want the governor to say no, but, are appalled the state board, ever said yes. News on 6 crime reporter Lori Fullbright says Jack Horath remembers the night he was shot like it was yesterday.

He saw a break-in at a Creek County car lot, stopped to investigate and nearly died. "I took a shot to the back and I looked back and the subject was leaning over the top of a car with a rifle shooting rapid fire. He hit me next in the shoulder then in the wrist, cause I thought he was going to hit me in the face and I put my hand up and then, the fourth shot hit me at the top of the heart and that knocked me down."

The man was Andrew West [pictured] and he'd only been out of prison a few months. A jury gave him three, 100 year sentences and another 10 years for 310 total. He first came up for parole 10 years later in 1999.

But when Horath's friend and former trooper Dan Howard, testified, West was denied, he was denied again in 2001. However, last month, the board recommended West be paroled on his first sentence. "It amazes me the parole board would even consider this guy."

Some people might say, it's only parole on the first sentence and West still has other sentences, so why get so worked up over this. Dan Howard, Horath's friend: "Used to, didn’t get parole after 15 years on a 50 year sentence, but, with prison overcrowding it began and who's to say with more overcrowding, it won't go down to 10 or 8, it's the domino effect we're worried about."

Dan says these prisoners were also before last month's parole board and they were all denied, even though they had non violent offenses and some have served at least half their time, just 30% like West. Dan Howard: "This serving a third or a fourth of your time in the system is bull."

Parole boards often take good behavior into account when approving parole. But Dan learned West was charged with murder in prison just three years ago, even though the charges were later dropped.

And I found out Thursday, that West has lots of misconducts on his prison record. The Governor could decide on this case in the next few weeks.