The Daily Star, Oneonta, NY - otsego county news, delaware county news, oneonta news, oneonta sports

December 10, 2013

Murder victim's sister blasts parole board

By Joe Mahoney Staff Writer
The Daily Star

---- — The sister of murdered Milford High School graduate Gillian Gibbons said Monday she is imploring state officials to conduct an investigation into what she called a disappointing breakdown in communication with her regarding a parole hearing for jailed killer David Dart.

Jennifer Kirkpatrick of Oneonta told The Daily Star that her complaint against the state Department of Corrections and Community Supervision — the agency that oversees both the prison and parole systems in New York — has been referred to Catherine Jacobsen, the agency’s assistant commissioner for program services.

In her complaint to the agency, Kirkpatrick informed state officials that she was the person who discovered the body of her slain sister slumped inside a car in the municipal parking garage in downtown Oneonta on Sept. 12, 1989. Gibbons was 18 years old when she was killed.

Although she had kept her contact information updated on a victim notification system run by the state, Kirkpatrick she said she only learned of a parole hearing scheduled for Dart last month after Otsego County Judge Brian Burns relayed the information to her through a mutual acquaintance.

The parole hearing was postponed to January after The Daily Star began making inquiries into Kirkpatrick’s allegations that was not directly contacted about the parole hearing for Dart, who is serving 25 years to life at the medium-security Otisville state prison.

A spokeswoman for the state agency said two weeks ago that Dart’s hearing was postponed after officials determined that his prison record was “incomplete.”

In her letter to the corrections agency, Kirkpatrick wrote: “I would like an official investigation into this matter immediately.” She urged the agency and the Otisville prison administration to contact her regarding Dart’s parole hearing.

Kirkpatrick, an office manager for an Oneonta dental practice, also questioned why the notice received by Burns’ office was dated Oct. 31, yet a court clerk stamped it as being received Nov. 14. She said she is also planning to ask the state comptroller’s office — which is empowered to audit state agencies — to examine the state’s crime-victim notification system.

Linda Foglia, a spokeswoman for the state agency, said she had no immediate comment on Kirkpatrick’s complaint. She said last month she was unable to discuss any victim-related information because of  confidentiality restrictions.

Kirkpatrick has launched a Facebook group called Stop Parole for Gillian’s Murderer, which as of Monday night had been joined by more than 1,300 Facebook users.

She has also won support from Otsego County District Attorney John Muehl and state Sen. James Seward, R-Milford. The latter has called for Albany to adopt a measure that would lengthen the period of time violent felons would have to wait for new parole hearings. Under current law, they can asked to be considered for release every two years once they complete their minimum sentence.

Dart, a former resident of Portlandville, is now 58 years old. According to testimony at his trial, he repeatedly stabbed Gibbons with a 17-inch survival knife.