Gov. Ivey opposes parole for convicted child murderer

Published 2:05 pm Tuesday, May 23, 2023

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On May 23, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey sent a letter to the Alabama Board of Pardons and Paroles opposing the potential parole of convicted child murderer Judith Ann Neelley.

In the 1980s, Neelley and her husband, Alvin Neelley, were both convicted of the brutal 1982 rape and murder of 13-year-old Lisa Ann Millican of Cedartown, Ga. Allegedly, the couple abducted Millican at the Riverbend Mall in Rome, Ga., and took her to a motel in Scottsboro, Ala., where the couple held her captive. During her captivity, the couple raped and tortured her. After attempting to poison Millican with Drano injections, Judith Neelley shot her to death. Eventually, Millican’s body was found on the canyon floor of Little River Canyon in Fort Payne.

Later, Judith Neelley shot John Hancock and abducted his fiancé Janice Chatman in Rome, Ga. The Neelleys tortured and murdered Chatman but Hancock survived and was able to identity the Neelleys.

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The couple was arrested in October of 1982 and Alvin Neelley pled guilty to murder and aggravated assault in Georgia to avoid the death penalty. While he was not tried for the Millican murder, Judith Neelley was convicted in Alabama for the murder of Millican in 1983 and was sentenced to death. She was the youngest woman ever sentenced to death in the United States. Later, Judith Neelley also pled guilty to Chatman’s murder in Georgia.

13-year-old Lisa Ann Millican was murdered in 1982 by a couple in Scottsboro.

Alvin Neelley was incarcerated at the Bostick State Prison in Georgia until his death in 2005, while Judith Neelley was placed on Alabama’s death row at the Julia Tutwiler Prison for Women in Wetumpka.

Controversy surrounding Judith Neelley’s conviction came from the fact that the jury recommended a life sentence but the trial judge, Randall Cole, instead sentenced her to death. In 1999, then Alabama Gov. Fob James commuted Judith Neelley’s sentence to life in prison with the possibility of parole, citing the jury’s recommendation as his reasoning.

Now, Neelley is set to go before the parole board on May 25. Neelley was up for parole in 2018 but was denied.

“Please do not grant parole to Judith Ann Neelley,” Gov. Ivey said in her letter to the parole board. “Five years ago, I made the same request of this Board, and your predecessors unanimously denied parole after less than one minute of deliberation. Although each of you has joined the board since Ms. Neelley’s last parole hearing, nothing has changed since then that would support a different result today.

“Quite simply, Ms. Neelley should not be allowed to set foot outside of an Alabama prison. I believe it was a mistake for Gov. James to commute Ms. Neelley’s death sentence in the first place – and certainly to do so in the way that allows Ms. Neelley the possibility of parole. Now, every five years, the wounds of these families are reopened as they wait with bated breath for your decision.”

In 2019, Ivey signed into law “Lisa’s Law” – named in honor of Millican – which allows families of victims the ability to prevent convicted perpetrators from profiting off their crimes through books, movies or other forms of entertainment. The law came to be after Millican’s family approached Alabama’s attorney general after TV producers began attempting to produce TV shows about the case following Neelley’s original parole hearing.