Archive for Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Woman upset that killer will be released

Daughter of 1977 murder victim says she opposes parole

August 14, 2007


James R. Gardner was sentenced to 30 years to life in prison for the 1977 murder of Margaret Maxey.

James R. Gardner was sentenced to 30 years to life in prison for the 1977 murder of Margaret Maxey.

Convicted murderer set to be released on parole

A man convicted of murdering and dismembering a Lawrence woman 30 years ago is granted parole - and could be out of the prison system within two months. Enlarge video

Related document

Past stories on the Gardners ( .PDF )

The daughter of a Lawrence woman brutally murdered 30 years ago learned this week that her mother's killer will be released from prison.

James R. Gardner was 18 when he stabbed 46-year-old Margaret Maxey to death Feb. 6, 1977. He cut off Maxey's legs and dumped her body in east Lawrence. After pleading guilty to second-degree murder, he was sentenced to 30 years to life in prison. In 2001, Gardner was released, but returned to prison after he violated his parole by consuming alcohol.

If Gardner successfully completes two programs to help him transition to post-prison life, he could be released as early as Oct. 1. Libby Scott, Kansas Parole Board administrator, said the board considers these factors when granting parole: circumstances of the offense; the inmate's criminal and disciplinary history; prison capacity; and comments from victims, public officials and community members.

Gloria Thelen, who lives in Overland Park, attended a Kansas Parole Board public hearing in June during which she fought to keep Gardner behind bars. She said she and her family were shocked when they learned that the 48-year-old Gardner had been freed.

Although parole board meeting records from 2001 say no one opposed Gardner's release, Thelen said she did.

"I did everything I could to keep him in," said Thelen, 53, who petitioned then-Gov. Bill Graves to revoke Gardner's parole. "With (Gardner), his main thing is he never showed remorse. He thought it was a big game - he and his brother both."

According to statements made by police in court, Gardner's older brother, Joseph, then 22, met Maxey at a Lawrence bar and brought her to the apartment the brothers shared at 740 R.I. When James Gardner returned home, he became upset and stabbed Maxey. Hours later, while Joe cooked pizzas, James Gardner cut Maxey's legs off at the knees so he could stuff her torso into a garbage bag.

The pair later dumped Maxey's legs in a trash bin behind a store at 846 N.H. and pushed a shopping cart with the rest of her body toward railroad tracks near Seventh and Connecticut streets. Joe Gardner was sentenced to a two-to-10 year prison term for helping his brother cover up the crime. He was released in 1982.

Carrol Crossfield, one of the Lawrence police officers who arrested the brothers, said he has mixed feelings about James Gardner's parole.

"I just keep thinking about how gruesome this thing was that he did," Crossfield said. "I'm just concerned that this might happen to somebody else. Hopefully not."

Gardner is participating in Therapeutic Community, a program that helps offenders make the transition to life outside of prison. If successful, he will be paroled and released in about six weeks to a halfway house in Wichita.

Once he completes a program there, Gardner could be allowed to move to St. Louis to live with relatives.

"I hope the guy has some kind of remorse and finds forgiveness from God," Thelen said. "But I have a feeling he'll be back in. And the next time they won't give him another chance."


Steve Jacob 10 years, 7 months ago

I think I read before that people that a "life" sentence before the 1980's was considered a 30 year sentence. So he served the "max" for that time. Not saying I don't blame the daughter, but he sure did not get off easy.

KS 10 years, 7 months ago

This supports my reasoning that there should not be a "parole board". I guess I am pretty cold about these things, but I don't see why people should get out for crimes like this. If this guy kills again, it's gonna be pretty hard for someone to explain. Bleeding heart liberals!

inatux 10 years, 7 months ago

I miss the old LJWorld Sundown Edition. This story has been on the front page since last evening. I hate waking up to old news.

ontheotherhand 10 years, 7 months ago

KS, why do you think the process of a parole board is a "bleeding heart liberal" idea? First of all, I think that the death penalty seems more like a liberal idea--the person gets killed and does not suffer for the next 30-50 years. Perhaps we should have more life sentences with NO possibility of parole?

kujayhawk 10 years, 7 months ago

This type of crime deserves the death penalty so we wouldn't be sitting here talking about this "man" getting out on parole.

Bubbles 10 years, 7 months ago

"I'm a liberal, and I think this guy should have his legs cut off at the knee, and then be forced to walk the yard for the rest of his life."

Oh my God, what a sick individual you are.

You are against the death penalty but are for maming and torture. What does your head doctor say about this type of behavior?

cowboy 10 years, 7 months ago

I think any murder , first or second degree , should be life without parole , you have definitely proven the fact that you are a danger to society , what more proof do you need ?

warthog 10 years, 7 months ago

His therapist, Dr. Stumpy, is in complete agreement. I think he has a good idea. And then put him in with a bunch of guys doing hard time. He won't even have to get on his knees for them.

Bubbles 10 years, 7 months ago

Liberals will tell you that it costs more to put them to death offtotheright.

That's probably true factoring in the liberal lawyers high court costs and all the liberals that muck up the judicial process.

chet_larock 10 years, 7 months ago

"What does your head doctor say about this type of behavior?"

Judging from your posts, this a question you should be asking yourself, Bubbles.

imastinker 10 years, 7 months ago

I don't support the death penalty.

I do support hard labor, and a lifetime of it. We have lots of uses for hard labor, like making highways, licence plates, digging ditches, etc...

With that said, has anybody considered the option that he has reformed and may not be a menace to society? He has served his time. He may have completely turned around in the last 30 years.

OldEnuf2BYurDad 10 years, 7 months ago

OK, OK... we get the point: everyone has an idea of how they'd like this guy to suffer super-bad-like.

My first thought was that these guys must have been on some crazy drugs. "You chop off her legs while I put in some Tony's pizzas"? Being pond scum doesn't quite explain how two men could do that, while enjoying a pizza. These guys were tanked up on PCP or something.

Which, now that I think about it, is really what concerns me. He already violated his parole once because of his inability to remain sober. This man is not very well "regulated". I think he'll continue to be a menace to society. He needs to stay in jail.

Crossfire 10 years, 7 months ago

Gardner has been paroled once already. He violated that parole and was sent back. He should stay inside forever. Any parole for him is a terrible mistake. His supervision on this one needs to be very intense. Any violation must send him back. Zero tolerance this time.

OldEnuf2BYurDad 10 years, 7 months ago

"Zero tolerance this time."

I tend to think that people deserve second chances, a new start, but this guy did something really quite twisted. Then to top it off - he's spent most of his adult life living in a prison. Those places don't make you "better". I think "no more chances" is appropriate.

Ceallach 10 years, 7 months ago

OldEnuf, I know that "I was on drugs and didn't know what I was doing" is an all too common plea and an all too often accepted reason for committing atrocities. But human beings have been committing similar or worse crimes throughout recorded history. People who display such a total disconnect with even the most basic morals of mankind are not going to be helped by being caged. Dismembering and distributing the body of a woman you killed because you were angry that your brother brought her home is not comparable to most of the crimes committed by inmates.

I agree that he should remain in jail, but with the current system unless he messes us again he will be freed. I just pray his true nature will show itself during the testing periods and thereby provide evidence that he should continue to be jailed.

kneejerkreaction 10 years, 7 months ago

I like the Chinese way of dealing with people like him. They shoot him and then send his family a bill for the bullet.

justthefacts 10 years, 7 months ago

If he was sentenced to serve 30 years, and he has served 30 years, there's nothing the current system can do to keep him locked up any longer. If he went in at age 18 and his now 48, that's a long time to learn a lot of bad things, and I too doubt he'll stay out of trouble. Just hope the trouble is not the kind that put him behind bars in the first place. All too often, persons released from prison aren't ready to re-integrate and do not find work etc. that might help keep them out of future trouble. Would you hire this man to mow your lawn (or anything else)? Probably not (me either).

This is not an easily solved problem. There are libraries full of books, and papers, and experts who regularly argue over whether to put the emphasis on punishment or rehabilitation (and if so, how to do either one effectively). No consensus has been reached by the people who make their living in this area of life. So it's doubtful one will be found in this forum. But it does seem that people's view on this topic depends a lot upon whether they or a loved one have ever been personally involved in the justice system (on either side).

oldgoof 10 years, 7 months ago

Yup, America has something like 15% of the worlds population, and 40% of the worlds incarcerated prisoners. People posting here must be in charge.

tweetybird2 10 years, 7 months ago

I remember when this happened. I lived not even a block away from where this took place. I moved not long after it happened because I was not comfortable living so close to where it happened. He should not be released.

kujayhawk 10 years, 7 months ago

"Yup, America has something like 15% of the worlds population, and 40% of the worlds incarcerated prisoners. People posting here must be in charge."

....this only means we have $ and somewhat of a legal system.

Kat Christian 10 years, 7 months ago

The way I see it - if this had happened back in the 50s he would have been given the death penalty. What he did is unforgiveable and should spend his life in prison on in an unmarked grave. Only God can forgive such a monster - I am not capable of it. I feel sorry for the victim's family. I'm so sorry. I fought for the victim's impact statement along with Roberta Roper and I'm so glad it was passed. I do not feel monsters such as he are redeemable, if he showed no remorse then he'll show none now.

Tychoman 10 years, 7 months ago

Oh I didn't mean to be so admonishing, I "encouraged" him earlier. My bad.

Tychoman 10 years, 7 months ago

"Bleeding heart liberals!"

And just what is that supposed to mean, KS? Perhaps you can clarify, Bubbles, since you two are so excellent at turning a tragedy such as this into a partisan debate. Way to stay classy, you two.

Crossfire 10 years, 7 months ago

f he was sentenced to serve 30 years, and he has served 30 years, there's nothing the current system can do to keep him locked up any longer.


30 years to life... 30 years being the minimum. Life in prison the max. I believe he is to be paroled, not simply freed.

He went back in for drinking after his first parole.

"Come on down town James. I'll be the first to buy you a drink."

Grundoon Luna 10 years, 7 months ago

Only an idiot would think that only liberals have complete and utter control in the judicial system and that other groups have no power.

The attitude of it's-all-bleeding-heart-liberals'-fault it tired and wholey inaccurate and such comments are void of credibility. Don't be so lame brained.

TheHeartlessBureaucrat 10 years, 7 months ago

Imagine a legal system with the aforementioned conditions suggested by folks on these comment boards:

  1. There would be a limit to who could file a motion and why. The limit would be as arbitrary as "Only Good Cases" or "ones that don't help stupid people."

  2. Punishments would not be fixed or based against precedent. So...if the community decides AFTER a person fulfills the punishment set by LAW, they must stay longer.

...that is if they survive the "Kill 'em all" mentality.

If someone killed someone I loved, my rage against them will most certainly last more than 30 years. But the LAW is NOT here to console the grief stricken. It is to control a population that won't control itself. Limits on sentences are there not to coddle the guilty but to insure that if someone is wrongly accused and imprisoned that it makes it possible for them to be released.

There won't be a lot of press regarding this man's existence after his release. But it's not like he's going to be able to take a vacation, set up a little shop and sell macrame and ceramics and live the American Dream. It will be an imprisonment of its own...which will most likely cause him to re-offend and back he'll go.

Regardless of what I say, the best part of our legal system is that it can't stuff you in a cell for asking questions or speaking out. So keep asking questions.


acquarius 10 years, 7 months ago

Parole was originally designed for persons that "rehabilitated" in the prison system and could be released and not be a danger to society and lead a normal life The prison system does NOT function to accomplish this. Anyone who could possibly commit such a crime is NOT sane and 30 years in prison would certainly NOT make him sane. There are already too many dangerous people running around loose.

Bubbles 10 years, 7 months ago

You liberals are living in denial. Your complete basterdization of the legal system has left it void of any justice.

There are numerous cases of everything from child rapists to murderers that have been set free by liberal judges.

btw, which came first the liberal or the judge?

Ceallach 10 years, 7 months ago

old goof: just for credibility's sake, what was your source of the 15%, 40% stats given earlier?

Confrontation 10 years, 7 months ago

"But I have a feeling he'll be back in. And the next time they won't give him another chance."

Yeah, right. He shouldn't have been given another chance this time. Look at all the people who have been given fifty chances before they finally kill someone. This man will be back and forth between prison and Missouri (okay, those two may be the same places).

kneejerkreaction 10 years, 7 months ago

The two guys who murdered the Connecticut woman and two girls (after sexually abusing them) were life criminals and just recently out. They were clearly headed for nothing but trouble, and the system let them out. Then they killed three people.

Tychoman 10 years, 7 months ago

So it's apparent now more than ever that Bubbles is living in the cradle of idiocy.

kneejerkreaction 10 years, 7 months ago

You can murder somone and get out of jail, but if you kill someone in self defense, you are in a pack of trouble, perhaps criminally and definitely civil. Our legal system is messed up. It's run, or should I say abused, by greasy lawyers who aren't about Justice, but about lining their pockets any way they can.

mick 10 years, 7 months ago

This guy and his brother were "lovers" at the time of the incident. Lawrence would be the appropriate place for him when paroled.

Tychoman 10 years, 7 months ago

How so, Mick? Care to contribute yet another dazzling opinion piece to the conversation?

ksdivakat 10 years, 7 months ago

heres a thought...instead of housing murderers and baby rapers, why dont we just go back to the real old days and do the whole penal colony thing? Drop these monsters off on an island that is out in the middle of nowhere with no electricity, no shelter, food, clothing, running water, in shark infested waters and let them fin for themselves?? Sounds like a beautiful plan to me, no more tax payers dollars going to wast housing them and no more releasing them to reoffend!! Everyone is happy!!

gogoplata 10 years, 7 months ago

I agree with the death penalty. But what scares me is the thought of an innocent man being convicted and sentenced to death. Any thoughts?

warthog 10 years, 7 months ago

"the failures of such colonies are well documented in escape from new york and l.a."

Ummmm... Since when is a Kurt Russell movie considered as "documentation?" Are you the same guy that once tried to win an argument with, "well, the code of the Jedi says..." Maybe you meant to refer to the Klingon penal colony in Star Trek VI.

Ceallach 10 years, 7 months ago

I'm betting there are many more innocent people killed by released felons than innocent men being convicted and executed by our legal system.

kneejerk is right, this cannot be credited to any political party. For decades lawyers from both sides have been twisting the legal system to meet the their greed and we have to live with the results. They don't make a lot of money off of average, law abiding Americans. But the criminals, regardless of how twisted, now that's where the money is. The rich ones pay them directly, those not so rich have their legal expenses paid by . . who? . . . you and I!!!!

mick 10 years, 7 months ago

Tychoman- It's not opinion. This guy and his brother were "lovers" and that was the cause of the murder. How well would they fit in with Lawrence's domestic registry?

Deb Engstrom 10 years, 7 months ago

James Gardner was convicted of 2nd degree murder. The death penalty was not even an option.

mick 10 years, 7 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

jonas 10 years, 7 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

Tychoman 10 years, 7 months ago

Don't encourage him, Jonas, he doesn't have to work anymore to prove his bigotry.

jonas 10 years, 7 months ago

Nor has he for some time. Sorry if what I wrote could be considered encouraging him. Wasn't my intention.

lunacydetector 10 years, 7 months ago

this guy is sick. i remember waymire's meat market downtown where they disposed of the victim's legs. i hope this guy moves into one of the parole board person's neighborhood, and not in lawrence.

stuckinthemiddle 10 years, 7 months ago

Just wondering... if there is anyone here who knows more about libel laws than I do... could Gardner and or his brother sue someone who made false claims about them in these comments, such as them being homosexual lovers? And in such a case would the LJW be compelled by law to reveal the poster's identity?

I've wondered about this before while reading comments here... because on occasion people post things that certainly seem to be libelous...

ramuse 7 years, 10 months ago

he james richard gardner has stabbed again feb 19 2010. he goes in front of a jury june 21 2010. he is in the sedwick county jail as of feb 19 2010. charged wih agg weapon violation and agg assault.i hope god will be the judge and he will spend the rest of life in max prison he is 51 now. may gloria thelen get her wish that he gets back in prison and for the rest of his life.he is evil i know him threw missouri and he should have been picked up way before he did on dwi he 2 in three months dwi with a women with him who had stabbed her husband to dead and was out on parole. he has been around children in missouri with the women who had killed her ex. she had a 6 yr old boy. this time the women he was living with has a 6 yr old daughter. james and her mother did cocaine meth pot got drunk every night . this women was the one who called the police on him james gardner this time. heard from a ex family member in mo

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