CLEVELAND - A convicted killer who was paroled from prison is being sought again for murder less than a year after Ohio parole officials ruled he was "very unlikely" to re-offend.
Authorities now are calling Marlon Ricks their "most dangerous" fugitive after the body of Ricks' girlfriend was found stabbed 14 times in March 2012.
An exclusive 5 On Your Side investigation reviewed parole records and found Ricks was among an increasing number of prison inmates being released. In the first six months of 2012, records show 138 inmates were released, compared with just 62 in the period a year ago-- a 122 percent increase.
Ricks was one of them.
In 1990, Ricks pleaded guilty to murder, kidnapping and felonious assault, and was sentenced to 15 years to life in prison. Prosecutors said Ricks shot his stepfather in the head and assaulted his girlfriend.
But records show the Ohio Parole Board voted to release Ricks despite objections of prosecutors who argued that there was "a substantial reason to believe that Rick's release into society would create undue risk to public safety."
In a letter to parole officials, prosecutors said Ricks' release would "pose a clear danger."
Still, Ricks was released in April 2011 and parole records obtained reveal the board ruled that circumstances surrounding Ricks murder, kidnapping and aggravated assault conviction was "very unlikely to re-occur."
Judy Coleman said the parole board's decision cost her daughter's life.
"I feel the board should be made to pay for releasing him and him taking my daughter's life," Coleman said.
Ricks is now being sought by the U. S. Marshal's Fugitive Task Force .
"It didn't take him long after he got out and he snapped again--apparently," said Assistant U.S. Marshal Drew Deserto.
Meanwhile, an Ohio watchdog group that monitors the parole board fears the rise in the parole rate is alarming.
Bret Vinocur runs Blockparole.com and labels the type of offenders now being released "the stuff horror movies are made of."
In addition to Ricks, the Ohio Parole Board voted to release Alfonzso Johnson over the objections of prosecutors.
Johnson was convicted of a killing a 16-year-old honor student after serving only 17 years of a 15-to-life sentence.
Cuyahoga County prosecutors sent a letter to the board describing Johnson as "a clear danger to society."
Even so, Ohio Parole Board Chairwoman Cynthia Mausser insists such paroles are not driven by efforts to increase the parole rate.
"No, there's not effort to attempt to increase the parole rate," said Mausser.
The prison system's own budget reveals $188 in cuts and a goal to "reduce the prison population" by 600 inmates by July 2013.
Mausser said inmates are paroled on a "case by case" basis after careful evaluation and said only about one third of paroled inmates return to prison.
In addition, our investigation found that families and crime victims sometimes have no idea that convicted killers have even been released.
For example, when Paul Raymond Saultz was released for the 1974 murder of 15-year-old Roberta Francis, her father was never contacted. Robert Francis said he learned of Saultz's 2004 release in the newspaper.
Saultz molested another girl two years after being released and is back in prison.
There is now pending legislation in the state legislature called Roberta's Law that would require the parole board to notify victims and family members that an inmate is scheduled for release. Currently, notification is limited to those who sign up for notification.
Meanwhile, if you have information regarding the whereabouts of Marlon Ricks, you can call the U.S. Marshal's Fugitive Task Force at 1-866-4-WANTED.
- Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s opposition to Marlon Ricks’ parole: http://bitly.com/QscLBO
- Ohio Parole Board decision on Marlon Ricks: http://bitly.com/RmZ3gz
- Bill Mason’s letter to the parole authority on Marlon Ricks: http://bitly.com/SPWxRa
- U.S. Marshals Service “Dangerous Dozen”: http://bitly.com/PHUzCI
- Bill Mason’s letter to the parole authority on Alfonzso Johnson: http://bit.ly/Sy5fkw
- Ohio Department of Corrections parole board report: http://bitly.com/SPWAg3
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