Brian Davis during a hearing in Plymouth county in 1995 was recently granted parole by the Iowa Dept. of Corrections.
SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KTIV) -
A man behind bars for a Northwest Iowa murder is about to be freed five years before his scheduled release.
"I don't care if he was a perfect prisoner, he should serve his time," said Beth Williams.
The decision to parole Brian Davis isn't sitting well with the sister of his victim.
For the last 20 years, Beth Williams says there hasn't been a day when she didn't think about her younger sister Julie Baack or the violent crime that took her life.
In fact, Williams wrote a letter to Iowa Governor Terry Branstad hoping to prevent the Dept. of Corrections from releasing Davis.
When Brian Davis arrived at the Plymouth County courthouse in handcuffs back in 1995, almost three years had passed since Julie Baack's disappearance. Davis pled guilty to second degree murder and received a 50 year prison sentence for killing his girlfriend. Now, after just 17 years, he's been granted parole.
"I think our system is very flawed and he should have done the time," said Williams.
Julie disappeared from her Le Mars, Iowa apartment in December 1992. The 23-year-old's blood was found in the back of a pickup truck that Davis had borrowed. Despite several searches, three years passed before her remains were discovered in a shallow grave in the Loess Hills, east of Onawa.
"It took a long time to realize she's not coming back," said Williams.
Williams says she's been to every court hearing and every video conference concerning Davis and the murder of her sister. She's heard Davis recount the crime several times.
"How he killed, moved a body three times, change her clothes, strip her of her jewelry, try to burn her but she won't burn. He can tell that story as if it's nothing," argued Williams.
Williams says she came to terms with a 2018 release date. However, facing the reality five years sooner, she finds unsettling.
"It's all about money," said Williams. "I understand that the prisons are full, the population's high. He's costing the state of Iowa money to keep him there. So they're going to decrease it? So now they're saying they're going to let low risk prisoners out? How can a murderer be defined as a low risk prisoner?"
She's written to state officials trying to stop the wheels already in motion. That's because Williams vowed years ago to be the voice for a victim, a voice for Julie.
"He's a murderer," said Williams, "he should serve his time."
The three member Iowa Board of Parole, led by former Dickinson County Attorney Jason Carlstrom, granted Brian Davis parole under certain conditions.
He must live with family members in Olathe, Kan. and have no contact with the victim's family. Davis must get a job and be monitored by corrections officials in that state.
By granting parole, officials say they can keep tabs on an inmate and help them transition.
"We prefer not to just open the door and let them walk out on the streets. The adjustment can be very difficult, particularly since we can't put ourselves in a position to verify and require that they spend, that they live with a particular family member that does have some credibility," explained Fred Scaletta, Assistant Director, Iowa Department of Corrections.
Any violations and Scaletta says it's a direct trip back to prison. As for the potential of violent offenders to become "low risk" offenders. He says inmates will go through many programs during their incarceration, including things like substance abuse and batterer's education.
"In order to get to that level, before we're ready to release someone, they have to work their way through the process to get into minimum security. Before, they're not necessarily eligible, but in many cases we would recommend their release," said Scaletta.
Kansas could choose not to accept Brian Davis.
Williams wrote a letter to the Mayor of Olathe, Kan. saying she was concerned for the welfare and safety of young women in that community.
Mayor Michael Copeland responded saying he had shared the message with his Police Chief.
"Our Police Department has been in contact this week with the Kansas State Parole Office to discuss Mr. Davis, his pending release from prison, and his request to relocate to Kansas."
He goes on to thank her for bringing the situation to their attention.
If Kansas chooses not to accept Davis, his parole would be rescinded.
However, Iowa corrections officials say it could be reconsidered again based on another plan.
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