Wisconsin Governor Asks Panel to Reconsider Killer’s Parole

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Gov. Tony Evers implored the chairman of the Wisconsin Parole Commission on Friday to reconsider his decision to parole a convicted murderer who served less than 25 years of his 80-year sentence, a move that It came as the Democrat seeking re-election this year faced mounting criticism.

Evers met Friday on Capitol Hill with family members of the victim, Johanna Balsewicz, and concluded shortly afterward that he had sent a letter calling for an “immediate and expedited” reconsideration of her killer’s parole.

Evers does not have the power to revoke parole, but his appointee who chairs the parole commission, John Tate, can.

“I do not agree with this decision and am very concerned whether Johanna’s family had sufficient opportunity to express their memories, perspectives and concerns before this decision was made,” Evers wrote.

Douglas Balsewicz, 54, is scheduled to be released from prison on Tuesday, just days before the 25th anniversary of the crime. He was approved for his release despite opposition from the family of the victim, Johanna Balsewicz.

Evers has faced pressure from Republicans seeking to challenge him this fall over the decision to grant Balsewicz parole.

Johanna Balsewicz’s family left the meeting at the governor’s office, saying they were pleased with the way it went and that Evers would send Tate a letter soon. They refused to discuss the content of the letter before it was published.

Tate did not immediately return a message seeking comment on the governor’s request.

Balsewicz’s sister, Kim Cornils, said Evers appreciated his comments. She said the governor told them her staff is “trying to figure things out.”

Cornils said he warned Evers that the November election is coming up.

“I said, more or less, you’re going to be responsible for this,” he said. “Unless changes are made, it’s not going to be good.”

The victim’s daughter, Nikkole Nelson, said he should not be paroled after serving less than half his sentence.

“I think what Tate did and decided is very wrong and I hope he changes his mind after this,” he said.

Douglas Balsewicz was convicted in 1997 of stabbing his wife of 23 years to death in their West Allis home and was sentenced to 80 years in prison in a plea deal. He stabbed her more than 40 times.

Douglas Balsewicz was first eligible for parole in 2017 and was denied. The Wisconsin Parole Commission said in a statement that he appeared before the panel for a fifth review on April 14.

The commission said Tuesday that Balsewicz “will be carefully monitored by his assigned probation and parole officer” and ordered to have no contact with the victims or their family members.

Republican gubernatorial candidates Rebecca Kleefisch, Kevin Nicholson and Tim Michels have criticized parole. Nicholson sent Evers a letter asking him to remove Tate from his position.

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