ST. AUGUSTINE BEACH, Fla. -- Wednesday the Florida Parole Commission decided to keep convicted killer Thomas DeSherlia behind bars.
Jane Tillman, spokesperson for the Florida Parole Commission, said the commission's panel voted unanimously to keep DeSherlia in prison.
DeSherlia's next parole hearing will be in seven years in August of 2019.
Ron Parker was killed in the line of duty in 1975 while on the St. Augustine Beach Police force.
Now, his widow and many in St. Augustine Beach, St. Augustine and St. Johns County want his killer to say behind bars. The parole hearing for Thomas DeSherlia was held Wednesday in Tallahassee.
That's where Brenda Parker was.
She is Ron Parker's widow and she now lives in Georgia. She said life changed for her when Parker, 27, was killed serving St. Augustine Beach.
"We were trying to make a life for us there," she remembered. "We had so many plans. It went away when he left."
Deputy Bob Jarrard, now retired, covered Anastasia Island for the St. Johns County Sheriff's Office in the 1970s, and he often crossed paths with Parker.
"He was a hard worker. We worked together as back up for each other," Jarrard recalled. "The whole town just loved him. It was a small town and he had interactions with everybody!"
Jarrard wasn't working that night in 1975 when DeSherlia -- who was wanted for violent crimes in other states -- showed up at the beach.
"He wrecked his car at the pier and he put it over there by the rocks," Jarrard explained. "Knowing Ron, I'm sure he said something like, 'Sure, let's make some crash reports. No big deal.' But he'd given Ron a fake ID and was afraid he'd get discovered. So he was sitting in his car and [DeSherlia] pulled out a gun and ... it's history from there."
DeSherlia shot and killed Parker. DeSherlia was sentenced to life in prison. Thirty-seven years later, he's up for parole.
"I think he deserves to say in jail for his whole life, just like the judge said," Jarrard said.
Many people have signed a petition to keep DeSherlia in prison. At Wednesday's parole hearing, Parker's widow will ask the commission to do just that.
She plans to ask the commission "to keep this inmate in prison and out of society because I know the hurt he's done to our family and to other families and what he can do again."
No matter the outcome, Parker's kindness lives on in a beach town he dedicated his life to serving.
First Coast News