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Convicted killers seeking freedom at parole hearings in Atlantic Beach

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Updated: 1/16 7:26 pm
ATLANTIC BEACH, Fla. -- Parole hearings from around the state are being held in Atlantic Beach.

The crimes related to the hearings include burglaries, sexual batteries, and multiple first-and second-degree murders.

One of those hearings included a Clay County man in jail convicted of second-degree murder.

In 1977, Richard Day was sentenced to prison in connection to the death of a woman who was stabbed more than 20 times.

Action News spoke with Day's sister, Lisa Morre, who claims her brother is innocent. She says she'll attend all of his parole hearings to fight for his early release.

Parole hearings for Florida prisoners are held three times a month in Tallahassee. However, three times a year the board takes the hearings on the road. Wednesday the Florida Parole Commission was in Atlantic Beach, Florida.

The state budgets $15,000 a year for the out of town hearings. The price for taxpayers is small, however the cost to family members can be hefty.

Action News spoke to a family who drove all the way from Titusville near Orlando Wednesday morning just to get 10 minutes with the parole commissioners about their case involving a murdered member of their family. Jeri Mirabella and her family members made the trip to make sure their sister's killer stays in prison.

“We honor her by keeping him behind bars, so no other family will ever have to go (through) the lifetime of pain that we have,” said Mirabella.

While making the trip can be a hardship for some families, the Florida Parole Commission Chair Tena Pate says their testimony is needed for them to make an informed decision.

"There are so many factors that we have to take into consideration, and they sit there and they tell us a lot of things," said Pate.

If the family of victims or prisoners can’t afford to travel the board is forced to vote without their input.

"We don't feel like we can make a fully informed decision without getting the family's input because they are visiting them, they are talking with them, they notice whether or not a change has taken place, but we can't do it just based off of their input," said Pate.

Every year family members spend money to travel to parole hearings with the hope that their input will influence the parole board.

The board heard 41 cases from all across Florida today.
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