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Parole board member resigns ahead of release of murderer James Williams III

Photo from Tony Smith/LinkedIn

A member of the Mississippi Parole Board that voted against the release of double-murderer James Williams III has resigned amid the killer’s upcoming release.

The board member, Tony Smith, has served in the position for less than three years after being appointed in July 2020 by Governor Tate Reeves. Smith resigned on Friday, May 12, and was expected to hold the position for a four-year term.

Representative Price Wallace, R-Mendenhall, who revealed the news of Smith’s resignation on Monday’s episode of The Gallo Show, explained that out of the five total members serving on the board, Smith was one of the few that voted “no” for Williams’ release. Additional board members include Chairman Jeffrey Belk, Marlow Stewart, James Cooper, and Betty Lou Jones.

“I do know that he was one of the ‘no’ votes on this parole. I am sure that he probably has been having a lot of phone calls,” Wallace said. “I could see where, in some form or another, you just have to say, ‘I can’t do it anymore.’ I don’t blame the man, but this is a travesty.”

Williams was initially sentenced to serve two life sentences without the possibility of parole in 2005, four years after murdering his father, James Williams, Jr., and his stepmother, Cindy Lassiter Mangum Williams.

Now, nearly 20 years after his sentencing, the parole board has approved Williams’ tentative release for Tuesday, May 16, stating that they believe Williams “is able to be a law-abiding citizen and that parole supervision will be more beneficial than further incarceration.”

The board added that the decision came after the family missed a recent hearing in early April — even though family members claim to have never received a notification on the meeting — as well as Williams’ undergoing a “moral rehabilitation” through his attainment of a GED and his work as a Christian minister.

Wallace stated that he intends to introduce a bill that would require the parole board to send certified mail to each family member of the victim during the upcoming legislative session.

“That’s one thing that happened in this case, there wasn’t but one letter sent out,” Wallace said. “As far as I understand, Zeno [Mangum] never got a letter from the parole board saying that they were having a hearing. Why did they forget him? He’s the son of the lady that was murdered.”

On April 25, Williams’ family spoke directly with the parole board over a conference call, stating their disapproval of the decision to release Williams. According to the family, only two board members spoke during the duration of the call and have not given any further update on the double murderer’s release.

Smith has declined to comment on his recent resignation or the release of Williams.

27 Mississippi lawmakers ask parole board to reverse decision to release James Williams III

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