Originally created 12/25/96

Convicted murderer denied parole



Faced with fierce opposition from area prosecutors, the state parole board decided a convicted Burke County murderer won't be paroled Dec. 30.

Willie Clarence West, 44, was set to be released on parole Dec. 30, but after the Georgia Board of Pardons and Parole received heated protest letters from prosecutors in two judicial districts board members changed their minds about Mr. West, said spokeswoman Scheree Lipscomb.

Mr. West has spend 23 years behind bars for a 1973 crime spree which included the robbery and murder of 55-year-old Joseph Allen DeLoach, owner of the IGA Red and White Food Store in Waynesboro.

"I'm delighted to know the parole board is sensitive to the victims of crime and responsive to an expression of concern from prosecutors who work so hard to bring these killers to justice," said Augusta Judicial Circuit District Attorney Danny Craig.

Mr. West was convicted of murder and robbery in Burke County, and of three more counts of robbery and an aggravated assault in Richmond County - both counties are in the Augusta Judicial Circuit. Mr. West also was convicted of robbery in Screven County, and the current prosecutor there, Joseph Martin, also protested Mr. West's parole.

Mr. West was arrested in April 1973 with two other men after an Augusta robbery in which an employee was struck in the head with a tire iron. Mr. West, however, acted alone in Mr. DeLoach's robbery and murder, Mr. Craig said.

The Dec. 30 parole date was tentative, Ms. Lipscomb said last week. The parole was poised to grant Mr. West parole from his life sentence because of his extensive work in prison to improve himself and because the board was led to believe Mr. West wasn't the triggerman in Mr. West wasn't the triggerman in Mr. DeLoach's slaying.

The board will review Mr. West's case again, probably in four to six months, Ms. Lipscomb said.

Mr. West was the triggerman who shot Mr. DeLoach, Mr. Craig said. Upon learning of the parole board's misunderstanding of the Burke County murder, Mr. Craig contacted the board with additional information, he said.

That Mr. West would mislead the parole board into thinking someone else shot Mr. DeLoach shows Mr. West has not accepted responsibility for his actions, Mr. Craig said.