Charles Dennis Easley won’t be getting out of prison anytime soon. Easley, who was up for parole review in March after having been sentenced to life in prison for killing a Sherman girl in 1969, will have to wait until 2023 to be eligible again. He is 66 now and will be 71 years old the next time he comes up for parole.
More than 900 people signed a petition on Change.org to keep Easley behind bars. Terri Wood started the petition to Texas Gov. Greg Abbott to keep Easley in prison after the Herald Democrat reported Easley was up for parole.
Many of those who signed the petition said they did so because they remember the way the crime changed the community.
“My mother was a newspaper reporter, and I remember all of the horrible details of both little girls deaths,” Janice Robertson wrote. “Please … this monster doesn’t deserve to be alive much less a free man on the streets.”
Timnetta Kirby posted that the death of Stevens happened in her neighborhood in Denison and that the child was a friend of her older sister.
Easley was 18 in September 1969 when Sherman’s Donna Golish went missing on her way home from school. Her body was found in a wooded area northwest of Sherman on Sept. 11, 1969. It was just three quarters of a mile from the school. She was reported to have been badly battered, with bruises, lacerations and a broken leg.
On April 1, 1970, 11-year-old Laurie Stevens left Lamar Elementary headed to her Denison home. She was wearing a red dress with a blue sash and she never arrived home. The next day, her purse and a few things were found on the edge of the red clay road leading to her home on the city’s east side. The day after that, some boys found a sweater, a dress and some undergarments that Stevens’ mother identified as belonging to the little girl. Two days later, her body was found near Randell Lake in the northwest area of Denison.
On April 10, Grayson County Sheriff Woody Blanton filed murder charges against Easley in the deaths of Golish and Stevens. Easley was convicted of murder with malice in the death of Golish and received a life sentence for the crime. He was also convicted of murder in the death of Stevens, but his conviction in that case was later overturned.
The cases would wind their way through the state and federal court systems, resulting in a number of trials and retrials before Easley was finally convicted of murder with malice aforethought on April 8, 1975 for killing Golish. The state dropped its prosecution of the Stevens case after Easley received a life sentence in the Golish case.
Easley currently resides in the Stiles Unit of the Texas Department of Corrections, located four miles southeast of Beaumont, and has been behind bars since March 8, 1970.
“The record indicates the instant offense has elements of brutality, violence, assaultive behavior, or conscious selection of victim’s vulnerability indicating a conscious disregard for the lives, safety, or property of others, such that the offender poses a continuing threat to public safety,” is the reason given for the parole decision on the Texas Department of Criminal Justice’s website.
In an interview earlier this year, Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles Director of Communications Raymond Estrada said board voters can take into consideration numerous factors in determining an inmate’s release, including the seriousness of the offense, the offender’s criminal history and number of incarcerations, time served and length of sentence. They may also consider the offender’s adjustment during prior periods of supervision and alcohol or drug use, as well as letters of support or protest and the offender’s educational or vocational training in prison. The offender’s age both at the time of the offense and now, could also be considered.