County Attorney’s Office wants convict to stay put | News, Sports, Jobs
WARREN – The Trumbull County District Attorney’s Office is “categorically opposed to liberation” of Willard Palmer, who is serving an 18 to 50 year consecutive sentence for aggravated robbery and felony assault on a peace officer.
In a letter written by Christopher Becker, the county’s first assistant prosecutor, to the Ohio parole authority dated May 20, he advises the board not to make the same mistake a similar board made in September 2016. freeing Palmer.
Becker said he appeared before the parole board to warn of the “clear and obvious dangers” freeing Palmer. After his release from prison, he was incarcerated three times in Trumbull County Jail for various parole violations, Becker says.
Palmer, 58, is now incarcerated at Lake Erie Correctional Institution and will appear outside his cell again around mid-June before a three-member parole board panel seeking a hearing plenary of the committee.
On July 18, 1994, at approximately 2:40 p.m., Palmer walked into the ceramic studio at Pete’s Place in Warren and pulled out a knife, threatening the clerk and demanding the cash register be opened. When the clerk told her she couldn’t get any money, Palmer ran away. The clerk eventually identified Palmer through a series of photos, Becker says.
The felony assault charge came from police investigating a man who had a gun wrapped in a towel and was standing at the intersection of Oak Street and Tod Avenue SW. When officers arrived, the man threw the gun at them and took off. After a brief foot chase, the man was confronted by an officer. Instead of surrendering, Becker said Palmer pulled out a large knife and lunged at the officer several times. He eventually surrendered and was arrested.
At a jury trial later that year, Palmer was convicted and sentenced to consecutive indefinite terms that put him at 50 years.
By 2005, Palmer was back on the streets of Warren committing more offenses, Becker said.
After being found with drug paraphernalia in December 2005, several months later he was arrested with weapons and drugs after a police chase. The offenses earned him an additional five years in prison.
“The facts of … this case are that the convict was involved in a traffic accident”, Becker wrote. Officers saw Palmer trying to conceal something in the van involved in the accident. The man fled on foot, as he had done a dozen years earlier, Becker said. And when he was arrested, he was found in possession of a knife, like in that 1994 case.
“For good measure this time though, Slick WIlly had drugs and a digital scale on him”, the Becker letter continues.
Just three weeks later, Palmer was a passenger in a car that was pulled over by Warren police. The driver had outstanding warrants, but while officers were tending to him, Palmer jumped from the passenger seat into the driver’s seat and took off in the vehicle, nearly hitting one of the officers, Becker said.
After a chase and a short-foot chase, Palmer was arrested again with a 3-inch knife blade and drug paraphernalia in his pocket.
Palmer was convicted of an escape charge in 2006 for failing to report to his parole officer for several months in 2005-06.
“Quite simply, this convict’s inability to conform his behavior to what the law requires…is abysmal,” Becker ends his letter, predicting that Palmer will do it again if he is released again. The prosecutor points to Palmer’s current risk score of 28 in the recidivism category.
“Why would anyone consider letting this criminal machine out of jail? Keep him in jail where he belongs. To do anything else would be embarrassing for the parole board, a slap in the face of justice, and would endanger the safety of our community,” Becker concludes.
Laura Austen of the Ohio Public Defenders Office said the office’s policy is not to speak about defendants who are facing parole hearings.