The state Parole Board said today it has denied convicted killer David Dart's application to be released from prison after he has served more than 24 years behind bars for the Sept 12, 1989 knifing death of Milford High School graduate Gillian "Jill" Gibbons.
State officials released the decision this afternoon after Jennifer Kirkpatrick of Oneonta, the victim's sister, disclosed to The Daily Star this morning that she had been notified by the state Department of Corrections and Community Supervision that Dart had been rejected for parole.
Dart was denied parole because his release would be "incompatible with the welfare of society and would so deprecate the serious nature of the crime as to undermine respect for the law."
Kirkpatrick has been waging a public battle to keep Dart behind bars, advising her supporters that he has a chilling record of accosting women and would likely be a threat were he to be put back on the streets. She gave a victim impact statement to the parole board as part of its proceedings leading up to the decision to deny him release.
The board said in a statement it considered Dart's plan for release as well as his "institutional adjustment, including discipline and program participation" along with his "rehabilitation efforts."
"More compelling, however, is the callous disregard you had for the life of the young female college student who you brutally stabbed to death," the three-member parole board panel said in its decision. "The victim's lifeless body was discovered by her sister several hours later. During the interview, you exhibited little insight into your motivation for this type of heinous crime. You had a pattern of dangerous behavior in the community dating back to Family Court."
It was Dart's first application for parole since he was imprisoned in connection with the grisly attack on Gibbons, who was planning to enroll in a school for aspiring airline flight attendants.
Dart's parole hearing was held last week. The 44-year-old former Portlandville resident has been confined to Otisville state prison, a medium-security facility.
Under the state's protocol, the incarcerated offender and victims and their families are notified of such decisions before the information is shared with the general public.
The parole hearing was initially scheduled to take place last November.
That hearing was postponed after The Daily Star contacted the state Department of Corrections and Supervision, inquired about the parole hearing and pointed out that Kirkpatrick had not been directly notified, even though she signed up on a state website to get such notices
Advised by The Daily Star this morning that Dart's bid for release has been denied, Otsego County District Attorney John Muehl said: "I think it's the only reasonable decision that could be made."
State Sen. James Seward, R-Milford, had also urged that Dart be kept in prison, contending his release would jeopardize public safety. Seward is backing legislation that would keep violent criminals from being automatically considered for release every two years, and extend that waiting period to up to five years.
Kirkpatrick has been rallying public support for that measure.
Gibbons was killed inside the municipal parking lot in Oneonta, where she was confronted by Dart when she went to retrieve her car. She was stabbed repeatedly, authorities said.
Muehl has called Dart "a psychopath" who likely would have accosted more women had he not been apprehended by Oneonta city police following an intensive investigation.
Kirkpatrick has said she only learned of the parole hearing in November as the result of the efforts of Otsego County Judge Brian Burns, whose office did not receive a notice on the matter until Nov. 14, to keep her in the loop.
Kirkpatrick said that as a result of her efforts to raise public awareness about Dart's attempt to win an early release from prison, at least two women have come forward to provide details about having been accosted by Dart before he murdered her sister.
Dart became eligible for parole consideration six months before he initially had been scheduled to face the parole board as a result of achieving ratings for good conduct during his confinement, officials said.
He earned the ratings, the parole board noted, after receiving credits for college courses and from his participation in a prison asbestos removal program, printing, tailor shop, food service and an art program.