Law enforcement groups are resuming efforts to deny parole to the man who killed Waco police Sgt. Roger Barrett in 1976

WACO, Texas (KWTX) – Area law enforcement groups are renewing a decade-long campaign to prevent parole for a former Waco man who killed a Waco Police Department sergeant. Roger Barrett and a Kansas man in 1976.

The Texas Board of Pardons and Prisons has denied Thelett Brandon’s request for parole 11 times since he first became eligible for parole in 1984. The last parole decision was made in June 2020.

According to parole records, the board denied Brandon’s most recent parole attempt because “consideration indicates that the instant offense contained elements of brutality, violence, and violent conduct or a conscious choice to expose the victim to a conscious disregard for life, safety, or property.” gives. others. It is the case that the criminal creates a permanent threat to the safety of society.”

However, when Brandon was again granted parole in June, Charlie Wilkison, executive director of the United Law Enforcement Associations of Texas — the state’s largest law enforcement organization with more than 25,000 members — and other groups are asking those who Keep Brandon in jail. to appeal to the parole board and protest.

“This is a dangerous person who has confessed to killing two people,” Wilkison said. “We certainly do not need such people in society. This affects the safety of all the people he goes to. Somehow he avoided the death penalty in this case, which I think would have been justice for both of them, but especially for killing a public servant, much less a Texas peace officer.

Wilkison said he wrote the letter at the behest of Barrett’s widow, Shirley Barrett of Waco, who declined to be interviewed for this story through a friend.

Barrett became a victim’s rights activist after her husband was killed. She and Nell-Wyn Tull, the widow of a slain state trooper from Georgetown, started Texas for Victims’ Rights and promoted legislation that became known as the Crime Victims’ Bill of Rights in 1987.

Brandon, now 69, is being held at the Montford Ward in Lubbock, according to prison officials.

McLennan County District Attorney Josh Tetens wrote a letter to the parole board Wednesday protesting Brandon’s parole, saying “he has no regard for human life.”

“The impact of this crime on the family members, co-workers and friends of these two victims is immeasurable,” Teten’s letter said. “Although this incident happened in 1976, the loss and pain of these families still remain. This office strongly believes that serving anything less than life in prison is not justice for the crimes of this cold-hearted killer. He should spend his life in prison.”

Roger Barrett, a 42-year-old sergeant, responded to a stabbing call on June 12, 1976, at the former downtown Waco bus stop on Columbus Avenue.

Barrett found 21-year-old Frank Johnson of Kansas dead and Brandon trying to steal a taxi. Barrett and Brandon struggled and Barrett was stabbed several times and then shot with his own gun. Brandon exchanged gunfire with police officers after he was arrested.

Brandon was convicted of capital murder in McLennan County and sentenced to death. However, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned that ruling in 1981, ruling that defendants must be informed before a psychiatric evaluation that the results can be used against them in the penalty phase, as juries try to determine the defendant’s future dangerousness. to determine

Brandon was later convicted of two counts of murder and sentenced to two consecutive life terms.

Retired 10th Circuit Judge Felipe Reyna, who was the McLennan County District Attorney during Brandon’s trial, said he encourages anyone with an interest in the case to write the parole board to challenge Brandon’s release.

“He’s just an absolute sociopath,” Reyna said. “He has no conscience for anything.”

Vern Darlington, president of the Waco Police Association, said his group has historically supported Ms. Barrett’s efforts to keep her husband’s killer behind bars.

“We will be involved in any way we can to prevent parole,” Darlington said.

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