City Goes To Court To Try To Block Parole
MARTINEZ, Calif. (AP) _ City officials in Antioch have gone to court to try to block the parole into their community of a man who maimed and raped a 15-year-old girl, saying he already has been threatened by angry residents.
The state Department of Corrections says it is looking into finding another area in which to release Lawrence Singleton, 59, who in 1978 raped a runaway hitchhiker, hacked off her arms below the elbow with an ax and left her to die. The victim survived.
Singleton was sentenced in 1979 to serve 14 years and four months in prison but earned an early release for good behavior and involvement in a work program in prison.
Since the state this month announced its plans to parole Singleton on April 25 from the prison in San Luis Obispo to Antioch, a town of 51,000 about 50 miles east of San Francisco, residents have been circulating his photograph and threatening to harm him, officials said.
The city asked a Contra Costa County Superior Court judge for a temporary restraining order to block Singleton’s parole. On Tuesday, the state asked that the hearing be transferred to Sacramento County because of extensive news coverage about the case.
Judge Patricia Herron on Tuesday postponed the hearing until Friday to give Antioch officials time to respond to the state’s request. The Antioch City Council voted unanimously Tuesday night not to oppose the change of venue.
Parole officials have said there is a chance Singleton, 59, could be sent to a state in the South where he has relatives.
Department of Corrections spokesman Bob Gore, however, said that would require the other state’s permission.
″We can’t just put him on a bus,″ he said, adding that officials also have talked to relatives in Nevada and Florida about sending him there.
Parole officials said they chose Antioch for Singleton’s release because they release convicts into the county where they last lived. Singleton did not want to return to San Pablo, the nearby Contra Costa County city where he formerly resided.
Antioch City Attorney William R. Galstan said Singleton may fare better in a larger city, where he is less likely to be recognized and harassed.
″I don’t know if there’s any city that would accept him,″ he said.
Dottie Marks, Antioch’s city clerk, described the city’s reaction to Singleton’s release there: ″They’re worried. They’re distressed. They’re concerned. They’re angry.″
″One thing’s for sure. If he’s not a danger to us, we’re a danger to him,″ said eighth-grader Amy Rickerson.
Thousands of residents have signed petitions opposing the former merchant seaman’s release in Antioch. Police Chief Leonard Herendeen advised 200 people at a meeting Monday night against taking matters into their own hands.
The victim, Mary Vincent, now 23, lives in a small town in the Pacific Northwest whose exact location has not been publicly disclosed. She told The Modesto Bee in a recent telephone interview: ″I’m trying to get back into the shadows again.″
Last October, she told the newspaper the thought of Singleton’s release caused her constant nightmares.
Under his parole, Singleton cannot leave his house from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m., drink alcohol, leave the county without written permission or contact his former wife or daughter. He also must undergo periodic psychiatric counseling.