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Could 13 Be Lucky for Jens Soering?


Jens Soering is hoping the number 13 proves lucky for him.  The former UVA honors student has been turned down for parole a dozen times and has spent more than 30 years behind bars for a crime he claims he did not commit.  Sandy Hausman spoke with Governor Terry McAuliffe about the case and filed this report.

In 1990, Jens Soering was convicted in the bloody murders of Derek and Nancy Haysom, but he still maintains his innocence.  His girlfriend, Elizabeth Haysom, had said she hated her parents and wanted them dead, but in court she blamed Soering for the crime.  This year, three experienced law enforcement officers who devoted hundreds of hours to the case concluded Soering could not be convicted today given new evidence. Two national experts on DNA confirmed the blood of two men was found at the scene – blood that did not match that of victim Derek Haysom or Jens Soering. 

More than a year ago, Soering asked for a full pardon, based on those and other findings, but Governor Terry McAuliffe is taking his time in making a decision.

“I want to see justice, and the worst thing is somebody incarcerated who did not commit the crime, so I want you to know the process is going on," McAuliffe said. "I take it very seriously.  I saw the report the other day.  I called my counsel again and told him I’d like an update briefing on where we are, so I am paying very close attention to this.”

Some of Soering’s supporters fear McAuliffe may be planning a run for president and might be reluctant to give Republicans any grounds for calling him soft on crime, but the governor insists that is not a concern.

“I’m going to do what I think is right and the chips fall where they may," he said. "I don’t care.”

Today, Virginia’s parole board heard another request for Soering’s release.  The board has not yet announced its decision, and it may opt to let the governor decide whether Soering – who has been a model prisoner – should be freed.