Parole for killer OK'd, another rejected

Parole for killer OK'd, another rejected

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OMAHA - A man convicted of second-degree murder in the killing of a South Sioux City woman has been denied parole, and a second convicted killer has been freed by the Nebraska Parole Board.

Gary Burlison, 42, was convicted in the 1992 death of Joy Hartman, 59, after Burlison and two other inmates escaped from the Dakota County Jail.

Hartman was bound, gagged and blindfolded in her home. She died of suffocation.

Burlison is known for challenging Nebraska's second-degree murder laws in a case that saw the state Supreme Court reverse an earlier decision that had freed 21 convicted murders from prison. Many lawyers say the 1998 ruling in Burlison's case has muddied the line between second-degree murder and manslaughter in Nebraska law.

Hartman's relatives opposed Burlison's parole, as did Dakota County Attorney Edward Matney III. If Burlison continued to show progress, he probably would be paroled before his mandatory release date in 2010, possibly as early as next year, said Kenneth Vampola, chairman of the Parole Board, which met Tuesday.

Burlison is serving 15 to 35 years for aiding and abetting second-degree murder, robbery, escape, kidnapping, burglary and theft.

In a second case, Dennis D. Lowe, 35, was granted parole under certain conditions. He was convicted of manslaughter in the 1992 beating death of Victor Hempstead, 29, of Omaha. Lowe had said he acted in self-defense.

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