Convicted mass-murderer Edmund Kemper III decided not to go through with a parole hearing yesterday when he saw a television camera inside the hearing room.
Kemper, serving eight concurrent life terms at the California Medical Facility at Vacaville, sent a message to the three-man parole board stating he wasn’t suitable for parole and would wait three years before requesting another hearing.
Assistant Santa Cruz County District Attorney John Hopkins, who went to Vacaville to argue against parole, said Kemper told him later he was ready for the hearing and wanted to tell the parole board about his progress, but changed his mind moments before it was to begin. Hopkins said Kemper changed his mind when he saw a television camera inside the hearing room as he walked toward it.
The hearing, Kemper’s fifth, was being video-taped by a Sacramento television station. Reporters from the Register-Pajaronian and the Santa Cruz Sentinel were also present.
Corrections Department Lt. Joe McGrath said yesterday Kemper felt “he couldn’t adequately state his case in front of the press.”
McGrath said the six-foot nine-inch Kemper has a “spotless record” and is an above-average worker at the prison. One month ago Kemper took over as coordinator of the prison’s Blind Project, supervising 15 inmates who record books on cassette tapes and repair Braille machines, McGrath said.
Assistant District Attorney Hopkins said he talked with Kemper for two hours after the hearing was cancelled. Kemper told him he was concerned that only five or 10 seconds of his comments would be used by the press and it would distort his remarks, increase his notoriety and make it more difficult for him to gain a release in the future.
Hopkins said today he would have told the board there aren’t “words strong enough to express how much the community of Santa Cruz is against (Kemper’s) release.”
McGrath said Kemper regularly participates in psychiatric therapy while in prison, although he suffers from no psychiatric illness. In a psychiatric report prepared for the hearing, Vacaville psychologist Jack Fleming states Kemper keeps his life “an open book” to people who are helpful to him. The psychologist said he has “no hesitation” recommending Kemper for work assignments that involve female staff.
Source: “Mass-murderer Kemper backs out of parole hearing”, Register-Pajaronian, by Guy Lasnier, June 4, 1985 / “Kemper backs out of stating his case”, Santa Cruz Sentinel, by John McNicholas, June 4, 1985 / Image: from documentary Murder: No Apparent Motive, 1984