Officials to speak to parole board

STEUBENVILLE – The current Jefferson County prosecutor and a former sheriff’s deputy were scheduled to appear at a state parole board hearing today to state they believe a man convicted of a murder in 1987 should not be allowed out of prison.

Robert Carpenter, now 49, was present at the November 1987 murder of Kevin Burks of East Liverpool but Carpenter claimed he didn’t participate.

Carpenter was with three other men, David Lee Hudson, Peter Martin and Billy Wayne Smith, who was 16 years old at the time, when they lured Burks from his grandmother’s house saying a friend was in need. All four are white. Burks was black.

According to testimony at their trials, the four men took Burks to a remote section of Brush Creek Township, where they tortured him, stabbed and shot him, before finally slashing his neck. Burks’ body was found 11 days later.

Carpenter was sentenced to 15 years to life in prison for murder, kidnapping and robbery.

Hudson, Martin and Smith each were sentenced to 59 years to life in prison.

Burks’ family has opposed prior parole attempts by Carpenter.

Former sheriff’s Deputy Frank Noble was one of the deputies who initially investigated the murder.

Jefferson County Sheriff Fred Abdalla said he sent a letter to the parole board opposing Carpenter being let out of prison, just as he has done in prior parole attempts.

Abdalla said Carpenter has claimed he didn’t participate in the shooting and slashing of Burks’ neck. Carpenter testified against the three other men during their trials.

“It is still a terrible crime they committed,” Abdalla said.

Prosecutor Jane Hanlin said she was asked by Burks’ family to attend the parole hearing. She said she planned to bring a strong message to the hearing.

“I don’t think you can be rehabilitated from that type of evil.

“They killed that young man for entertainment. There was no other motive – just racial hatred,” she said.

Hanlin believes Carpenter should spend the rest of his life in prison.