A man convicted of killing a Powell woman with a roofing hatchet in 1985 has been granted parole, the Tennessee Board of Parole confirmed Monday morning.
Jerry Carpenter was sentenced to life in prison for the 1985 murder of Myrtle Chapman. This was the fifth time Carpenter had been up for parole.
No release date has yet been set.
Tennessee Board of Parole spokesperson Melissa McDonald says Carpenter must either go to a halfway house or have an approved release plan, have no contact with the victim’s family and he will be referred to a forensic social worker for assessment of any transitional needs.
In March 1985, Chapman was beaten with a roofing hatchet by Carpenter after confronting him because she’d discovered he’d been stealing money.
Chapman’s family says the news is disappointing and they feel defeated.
“It seems as if the victims have no rights,” said Chapman’s sister, Wanda Martin.
“I’ll always be angry because I really don’t like the way it ended. I don’t think I ended for justice,” added Chapman’s sister, Judy Shores.
Both of Chapman’s sisters sat in on Carpenter’s parole hearing earlier this month through a video feed in Knoxville.
“Well, we’re always going to speak up and say what we feel for her because she can’t speak for herself,” said Martin.
“I don’t believe people like Jerry Carpenter, after viciously hacking people to death, don’t deserve to be walking the streets,” said Shores.
The sisters say they had a feeling Carpenter would be granted parole when the hearing wrapped, but they kept praying.
“I hope they don’t regret their decision but I’m afraid they might,” said Martin.
“He took a life. He needs to spend his life,” said Shores.
The sisters say hearing the final news comes with a shock and they’re sick to their stomachs.
“We are thankful that he spent 34 years in prison but we feel like he should’ve spent his life in prison,” said Martin.
“He’s getting a second chance at life. He did not give my sister a second chance. She died at 59 and she didn’t get a second chance,” said Shores.
Chapman’s daughter, Ginger Zuck, says she plans to write to Gov. Bill Lee expressing her feelings, concerns and frustrations with Carpenter’s release.
Carpenter’s brother, Rev. Kenneth Carpenter, has not responded to a request for comment.