Man who killed mother seeks parole

Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 3, 2004

[6/3/04]A Vicksburg man who pleaded guilty to shooting and killing his mother is seeking parole after serving 10 years of a life sentence.

Russell Thomas, 51, was sentenced to life in prison for the murder of Veulette Thomas, then 74, on July 30, 1994. She was found with gunshot wounds to the head and body the next day at the family business in the Thomas Building, 900 Clay St.

Thomas entered a guilty plea weeks before tougher state laws took effect that would require those convicted of violent crimes to serve at least 85 percent of their sentence. Under the previous law, which applies in Thomas’ case, he can seek parole after 10 years in prison.

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Warren County District Attorney Gil Martin said he thinks it’s too early for Thomas to be released.

“We would be opposed,” he said.

Martin said his office plans to ask the state parole board to block Thomas’ request. In addition to the district attorney’s opinion, the parole board can consider the family’s wishes and his behavior in prison.

Thomas wasn’t the only person to beat the tougher sentencing laws by pleading guilty. In 1995, the court accepted 14 pleas in addition to Thomas’, including another charged with murder.

Martin said he has not received any other requests for parole from those.

At his last hearing, Thomas told the court that he was sorry for the embarrassment he had caused the community and that he was seeking treatment. A Jackson psychiatrist had also testified that Thomas had been diagnosed as a manic depressive and had frequent side-effects from prescribed medications.

The parole board usually issues its decision within three months of the request, Martin said.