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Archive for Monday, July 29, 2002

Police: Parole violators common

Suspect in double slaying one of six caught by Lawrence officers in July

July 29, 2002

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When Damien C. Lewis was arrested more than a week ago as a suspect in a robbery, Lawrence Police had no idea he also was a parole violator.

That discovery came only after police made a routine computer warrant check on the man now also charged in the double slaying of an elderly Lawrence couple.

From their computer, officers learned the Kansas Department of Corrections wanted Lewis because he'd failed to report to his parole officer in Hutchinson in late April.

Lewis was one of six parole violators nabbed by Lawrence police during July.

"It's not uncommon for us to find people wanted on KDOC warrants," police Sgt. Mark Warren said.

Lewis is being held on capital murder and other charges for the July 10 deaths of Pete Wallace and Wyona Chandlee, both 71. They were found shot to death in their home at 1530 Learnard Ave. If convicted, Lewis could face the death penalty. He also faces charges related to a robbery in Edgewood Park a few days after the double slaying.

Police and Douglas County Sheriff's officers said they didn't have an accurate count of how many corrections department parole violators they pick up during a given period of time. The Journal-World counted the July arrests through an examination of Douglas County Jail booking logs.

Law enforcement officers will look for a suspect wanted on warrants if they have information about where a particular suspect is, Warren said. The only other way they catch them is by making routine computer checks through the National Crime Information Center (NCIC).

"It's standard procedure for officers to make that check when they come in contact with someone," Warren said.

Anytime officers stop a car for a traffic violation or check a suspicious person, the warrant check is made, Warren said. Officers radio the name to police dispatchers, who then run the name through the national system.

According to corrections officials, Lewis was released April 26 on parole from Lansing Correctional Facility. He had been serving a 56-month sentence for aggravated assault, burglary and criminal possession of a firearm.

Had Lewis followed the requirements of his parole and stayed out of trouble, he would have been dismissed from post-release supervision in January 2003.

Even after he was picked up as a parole violator, he would have served a maximum of 183 days in prison before being released again.

The January dismissal would have come a full year earlier than his original sentencing called for him to be set free. In 2000, the Kansas Legislature passed Senate Bill 323, calling for early release of inmates thought to be nonviolent offenders. That allowed for a full year to be taken off Lewis' post-release sentence.

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