More than 400 people have signed a recent petition on Change.org to keep a convicted killer Charles Denison Easley behind bars. Terri Wood started the petition to Gov. Greg Abbott to keep Easley behind bars after the Herald Democrat reported Easley was up for parole last week.
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 and 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 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 of killing Golish. The state dropped its prosecution of the Stevens case after Easley received a life sentence in the Golish case.
Easley, 66, 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.
Texas Board of Pardons and Parole Director of Communications Raymond Estrada recently confirmed Easley is being considered again for parole. Estrada said that review should be concluded soon.
Easley’s records on the Texas Department of Criminal Justice website shows that he is eligible for parole again on or by April 26. He was last denied parole on March 15, 2015. That denial stated “Nature of the offense” as the reason for the denial.
“The record indicates that the inmate committed one or more violent criminal acts indicating a conscious disregard for the lives, safety, or property of others; or the instant offense or pattern of criminal activity has elements of brutality, violence, or conscious selection of victim’s vulnerability such that the inmate poses a continuing threat to public safety; or the record indicates use of a weapon,” the posting states.
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. They may also consider the offender’s age both at the time of the offense and now, he said.
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.
“My mother never forgot when this happened and up until she passed … always spoke about this horrible killer … and prayed he would never see the light of day,” Kirby wrote. “My turn (to) make sure no one has to live that nightmare again … KEEP HIM IN PRISON.”
The petition can be viewed at https://www.change.org/p/greg-abbott-charles-dennis-easley-is-up-for-parole-again-please-help-deny-his-parole.