• 48°

Inmate convicted in triple murder could get parole

 

VIDALIA — Judge John Reeves recused himself Thursday from a hearing that could allow a man convicted of triple homicide to be eligible for parole.

A jury convicted Connor Lane Wood in the murder of his mother, father and a childhood friend in April 2008.

At just 15 years old, the jury gave Wood three life sentences in the Louisiana State Penitentiary.

A 2016 Supreme Court ruling, however, held that mandatory life sentences without the possibility of parole for juvenile offenders are unconstitutional — retroactively calling into question approximately 300 juvenile convictions in Louisiana, including Wood’s conviction.

Brad Burget, district attorney for Concordia Parish and other parishes in the region, said the purpose of Thursday’s hearing was to determine if, at the end of Wood’s mandatory 25-year sentence, the now 26-year-old could become eligible for parole.

“This hearing will not determine whether he is guilty — that has been determined,” Burget said in an almost empty courtroom Thursday.

Burget said though many of Louisiana’s juvenile convictions will become eligible for parole, the “worst of the worst” would maintain their life sentences.

“He is among them,” Burget said. “The people who loved him most in the world, he killed them.”

During Thursday’s hearing Wood’s attorney, Paul Lemke, said Wood requested Reeves recuse himself on the grounds that Reeves had been an assistant district attorney at the time of Wood’s conviction.

Reeves agreed to recuse himself, though he admitted he was reluctant to do so.

“I’m somewhat hesitant,” Reeves said in the courtroom. “But I don’t want to give the appearance of impropriety.”

The determination will pass now to Judge Kathy Johnson, though no date for the hearing has been set.

The jury convicted Wood in 2008 of fatally shooting his mother and father more than 15 times in the face, back and upper body as they lay in bed on March 14, 2007.

Wood was also convicted of fatally shooting Matthew Whittington, a 16-year-old neighbor, on the same night.

The circumstances of Whittington’s presence in the house were murky.

In one videotaped confession Wood blamed his parents’ murders on his friend; in another, Wood said the two boys acted in concert.

In both confessions, however, Wood admitted to killing Whittington.

Judy and Dennis Whittington, Matthew’s parents, were among the few spectators in Thursday’s hearing.

For the majority of the hearing, Judy Whittington looked down at the red carpet of the courtroom.

It was the first time she had been in the same room as Wood in almost 10 years.

“I’ve seen him since he was 4 years old,” Judy Whittington said as she sat outside the courtroom waiting for the hearing to begin.

“I don’t need to see him today.”

Whittington said the Wood family were neighbors and that Connor Wood had grown up just a few hundred yards from their house.

“We came today to make sure he stays in prison,” Whittington said. “Connor Wood should be kept in prison for life.”

Wood entered the courtroom slowly, shuffling with the shackles on his ankles.

After 10 years in Angola, Wood has grown into a tall, slender man. His hair is shaved close to his head and a goatee frames his mouth.

On his right hand, the letters “LOST” are tattooed across his knuckles.

News

President Felecia M. Nave launches Inaugural President Lecture Series at Natchez campus

News

Natchez hotel catches on fire

Business

Natchez officials host closed meeting concerning potential land donation to the city

News

‘Slave Dwelling Project’ stirs up conversations about history

COVID-19

Adams County officials to lift mask mandate on May 1

BREAKING NEWS

Hank Williams Jr. to play Natchez 4th of July Celebration

News

Law officials arrest 3 in connection with automobile burglaries

News

Master Gardners host spring plant sale at Co-Lin

News

Security officer enjoys building relationships with students

Business

Jobs everywhere but few workers to fill them

Business

Natchez artist opens mobile-making studio amid pandemic

News

Concordia Parish jury finds Clayton man guilty in killing of his wife, 12-year-old boy

News

International investors from India visit Natchez on economic development trip

News

Donations of items needed for 3rd Gayrage Sale

News

City approves final lease for historic train depot on Broadway Street

News

Lt. Gov. Hosemann addresses American Rescue funds in Natchez, Adams County

Business

Hosemann won’t close door to Medicaid expansion in Mississippi

News

Natchez Euro Fest moved to Sunday due to weather

News

Local resident takes photo of lightning strike behind Mississippi River bridges

News

Firefighters work house fire on Rankin Street Tuesday night

News

ACCS Drama Club to perform Aladdin Saturday

News

CPSB names candidates for Superintendent of parish schools

News

Police investigating shooting on Bishop Street

News

Thomas named STAR Student at NHS, chooses Coach Haywood as STAR Teacher