For Oklahoma parole board, case was ‘worst nightmare’

SONYA COLBERG Modified: June 24, 2009 at 12:48 am •  Published: June 24, 2009
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Cases like that of David Harold Earls, who won early release and then raped a child, haunt a former parole board member.

"That’s our worst nightmare, but we’re only human. We’re only human,” said Currie Ballard, who voted to recommend Earls’ medical release in 2003. All five board members voted to set Earls free.

If Earls had served the entire 20-year sentence for assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, he would have been in prison until 2016.

"He was paroled early. But for that, he wouldn’t have been living with this woman and the kids,” District Attorney J.B. Miller said earlier.

Earls was convicted of raping a 4-year-old girl in Pittsburg County last year. Earls, 64, accepted a plea bargain in May and received one year in jail and 19 years suspended. He is tentatively scheduled to be freed Sept. 24. Though the girl’s mother told The Oklahoman the plea deal was for the best, Miller and Judge Thomas Bartheld have been lambasted for the agreement.

Records show Earls was turned down for parole in 2002. The investigator recommended the parole board reject Earls’ bid for freedom because his 1996 assault offense was violent — the stabbing of a woman. He also had a prior felony burglary conviction.

Although Miller’s team considered just two former felony convictions, the parole board report included reference to a third felony conviction Earls reported — shooting with intent to kill — a 1982 case that lacked an official record.

Earls then sought a medical discharge effective in January 2003, before he was set for release in April 2004 for good behavior.


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