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November 27, 2013

Officials: Keep murderer in jail

By Joe Mahoney The Daily Star
Cooperstown Crier

---- — State Sen. Jim Seward, R-Milford, and Otsego County District Attorney John Muehl today both called on the state parole board to keep convicted killer David Dart in state prison, where he is serving 25 years to life for the 1989 killing of Gillian “Jill” Gibbons in Oneonta.

“I see no reason why this confessed killer should be afforded the opportunity to roam free after taking a young woman’s life in cold blood,” Seward said.

The senator also called on the Democratic-controlled state Assembly to take up a bill that has already cleared the Senate that would extend the time period between parole hearings for confined convicts seeking an early release.

Muehl, who was still in college at the time of the killing but knew the victim and her family, said Gibbons was the victim of “a gruesome murder.”

“David Dart is a psychopath who should never get out of prison,” Muehl told The Daily Star. “He stabbed her and stabbed her and stabbed her.”

Both Seward and Muehl expressed concern with what they called a lack of adequate notification by state authorities to the victim and those in the local criminal justice system.

“Victim impact statements serve a vital role, and the system needs to be reliable,” said Seward. It is the least that can be done out of respect for a family that has already been through more trauma and suffering than anyone ever should.”

Muehl said there was also an apparent breakdown by state criminal justice authorities in alerting his office that Dart, 44, was scheduled to receive a parole hearing this week.

That hearing was postponed to January on Wednesday, shortly after The Daily Star contacted the state Department of Corrections and Supervision, inquired about the parole hearing and pointed out the victim’s sister, Jennifer Kirkpatrick, had not been directly notified, even though she signed up on a state website to get such notices.

A spokeswoman for the agency said the hearing was postponed because Dart’s file was “incomplete.”

Kirkpatrick, who also vehemently opposes the release of Dart, said she only learned of the parole hearing Monday, as the results of the efforts of 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.

Muehl said he believes Dart would have harmed more victims had he not been quickly apprehended by Oneonta Police officers in the days after Gillian Gibbons was viciously assaulted inside Oneonta’s municipal parking lot on Sept. 12, 1989.

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.

Kirkpatrick has also had discussions with Janice Grieshaber Geddes, whose daughter, Jenna, was murdered in Albany by a paroled felon. The mother and her former husband, Bruce Grieshaber, were the principal advocates of Jenna’s Law, which easily passed both houses of the Legislature after Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, a Manhattan Democrat, was initially slow to allow a vote on the measure.

Kirkpatrick has started a Facebook group, Stop Parole of Gillian’s Murderer, whose membership has grown to 859 people since its existence was noted in Thursday’s edition of The Daily Star.

Seward also noted the Senate has passed another measure he supports that would require notifications of upcoming parole hearings to be sent by certified mail to county prosecutors and crime victims at least 30 days before each hearing.

Dart, a former resident of Portlandville, is confined at Otisville state prison, a medium security facility.