Archive for Friday, April 24, 2009

Police, firefighters tell parole board that criminal who killed colleague shouldn’t get parole

April 24, 2009


Man convicted of setting deadly fire up for parole

A Lawrence man sentenced to life in prison for setting a fire that killed a Lawrence firefighter in 1986 is up for parole. Enlarge video

July 17, 1986, was a rough day for the Lawrence firefighter community, as one of their own was killed while fighting a fire.

Now, current and retired firefighters and other law enforcement officers are fighting to keep the man responsible for setting that fire in the Kansas prison system as long as possible.

“He has never said he’s sorry, never apologized, never shown any remorse,” Jim Davies, a former Lawrence firefighter, told two members of the Kansas Parole Board on Friday morning in Topeka.

David Winebrenner pleaded no contest to first-degree murder for setting the fire that killed firefighter Mark Blair, a seven-year veteran of the local fire department and the first firefighter to die in the history of the department, which was formed in 1859. Blair was killed when a roof beam collapsed on him while he was searching for occupants during a house fire at 3028 Rimrock Drive.

“The result is tragic,” said Lawrence-Douglas County Fire Medical Chief Mark Bradford. “It is something that in the fire service we don’t take lightly; neither do the courts.”

Winebrenner — who was 21 at the time — set fire to his parent’s home while they were sleeping inside. He received a life sentence for first-degree murder in October 1987, but comes up for parole from time to time. His father said he started the fire because he was angry about not being able to drive the family’s new truck.

He’s eligible to be released from the prison system in June. Kansas Parole Board members Robert Sanders and Patricia Biggs heard comments from the public Friday morning in Topeka. Chairman Paul Feleciano was absent.

“We were in this house to search for victims and Mark lost his life,” Lawrence firefighter Doug Green told the parole board.

The three-member board will meet with Winebrenner on May 11 and issue a decision by the first part of June on whether Winebrenner, now 44, will be released from the prison system in June.

“Anyone who takes the life of someone in emergency services should be held to the highest standards,” Lawrence Police Capt. Dan Ward told the board. “Twenty-three years is not it. We strongly oppose the parole.”

Winebrenner was denied parole in 2006 and has been at various Kansas penitentiaries since being sentenced, prison records said.

Last August, he was transferred to the Wichita Work Release Center, a minimum-security prison in which inmates are required to maintain full-time employment in the community and are allowed to leave confinement to perform their jobs. The institution works to prepare inmates for release into society, according to the Kansas Department of Corrections’ Web site.

In the past, Winebrenner’s parents, who escaped the fire, have supported their son’s release from prison. They did not appear at Friday’s parole board public comment session, as they did in 2006. The public also has the opportunity to address the board Monday in Kansas City and Wednesday in Wichita.


demonfury 4 years, 11 months ago

If this guy has spent over two decades in prison and has graduated (behaviorally) into to a work release program, he is obviously not a threat to society. This man could escape anytime he wanted to. They let him out of the prison to go to work every day of the work week. He keeps coming back on schedule. He's half a free man now. I say let him out. Why are we wasting our tax dollars on a man who is already free 40 hours a week? Because he doesn't wear his heart on his sleeve and show the emotions that other think he should? Besides, I don't think all these people who attend his hearings to keep him in jail would change their views, even if he did say he was sorry. So what difference does it make if he is sorry, or remorseful, or not?


LA_Ex 4 years, 11 months ago

The initial crime was arson (possibly even attempted homicide on his parents), then it became murder when someone died. Just like if someone dies during an armed robbery...they aren't going to jail because of the robbery, it's murder.


lawthing 4 years, 11 months ago

American Justice is not about what is right or wrong. It is about who has the most money to bring the best lawyers to court.

People have spent less time in jail for worse crimes than starting a fire.

The initial crime was arson not murder. I say he has done his time.


linus 4 years, 11 months ago

I don't agree with the idea that he should stay in jail because it was a firefighter he killed...but he SHOULD stay in jail since he shows no remorse, and it was premeditated. He may not have killed his parents as he intended, but he did kill someone. An innocent someone that was trying to save the very parents that have stood behind him all these years.


LA_Ex 4 years, 11 months ago

bearlybrewed-20 years ago did you "get back at" your parents for not letting you drive the truck by setting fire to the house while they slept? Did you set a fire to a house knowing that a firefighter would have to enter it to try to save your parents? I think his actions 20 years ago are probably very different than your actions. This guy was 21 years old, when I was 21 I understood the consequences of my actions.


nomorebobsplease 4 years, 11 months ago

bearlybrewed - I think the sore point with most is that he has never shown remorse or apologized for what he did. I don't want someone on the street who takes very lightly the fact that he killed an innocent person - a person whose sole reason for being where he was to assist persons in trouble.
Someone who has no regrets about doing this is very unlikely to "do wonderful things based on his past experiences"


bearlybrewed 4 years, 12 months ago

I agree with Waddetree. A second chance after 20 some years. I am definately a different person than I was 20 years ago. How about the rest of you? Where is the compassion in our society when we seek vengeance and punishment on others continually and incessently. I do not excuse any actions of 20 years ago, however, our society seems to enjoy the continued punishment of others. And shame on the firefighters who seem to want to continue pushing because of a person's occupation. Perhaps this individual might be released and do wonderful things based on his past experiences. Maybe even become a fire educator.


Crossfire 4 years, 12 months ago

taxpayer, Thanks. I know what I am going to do.


cheeseburger 4 years, 12 months ago

Hey Wade - where's Mark Blair's second chance?


sherbert 4 years, 12 months ago

Even if he didn't intend to kill the firefighter, he knew he was creating a situation that might possibly kill his parents. He chose to take the action, now he must pay the penalty. Being in a work release program doesn't seem like strong enough punishment either. He should spend most of his life, if not all, in regular prison.


Taxpayer 4 years, 12 months ago

Winebrenner was on his "second chance" when he committed murder in 1986. He was already on probation for breaking into his parent's home and destroying their property. You can send comments about Winebrenner's parole bid, by e-mail to the Kansas Parole Board, your comments will be kept confidential. David Winebrenner, KDOC # 46698, pled "no contest" and was convicted of first degree murder [felony murder] in the arson death of Mark Blair. Winebrenner set fire to his family home in an attempt to murder both of his parents. Firefighter Mark Blair died while conducting a primary search of the residence. The link to the public comment form is listed below:>


eugunieum 4 years, 12 months ago

I had his son in class. A young man who is a great kid that never got to know his dad because this guy was mad over not driving a truck. Looks like premediated to me. Why else set the house on fire? Let him stay in jail.


Newell_Post 4 years, 12 months ago

I didn't know there were any illiterate "law researchers" in the world....


Darin Wade 4 years, 12 months ago

as a law researcher I dont see this as "murder mediated" but arson associated with murder.everyone needs a second chance and redeem themselves in this case.


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