63 year old Gerald Wayne (J.B.) Bounds of McMinnville may have to serve at least two more years in prison before being eligible for another parole hearing.
Two members of the State Board of Pardons and Paroles, Yusuf Hakeem and Charles Taylor, said Thursday they would recommend to fellow board members that Bounds be denied parole due to the seriousness of the offense in the 1981 fatal shooting of 27 year old Sherman Wright of DeKalb County. If at least four members of the board vote to concur with the recommendation, Bounds will not be eligible for parole again until 2012.
The hearing was held at the Southeast Regional Correctional Facility in Pikeville where Bounds is incarcerated.
Bounds is serving a life sentence for the first degree premeditated killing of Wright, who was shot once in the head just outside the Odyssey Arcade on West Broad Street, across from the Dairy Queen. The incident occurred on the afternoon of February 2nd, 1981, allegedly over a gambling debt. The game room no longer exists. The building now serves as the location for the Discount Tobacco Outlet. Had Wright survived, he would have turned 57 years old on Monday, October 25th
Bounds was found guilty of first degree murder by a DeKalb County Circuit Court Jury following a trial in October 1981 and he has been in prison since, having served 29 years and eight months.
Bounds has been up for parole twice, in September 2002 and again in August 2005. This was his third parole hearing.
Hakeem and Taylor, the two members of the parole board conducting the hearing, were not at the prison. They presided by video conference, hearing from Bounds, two members of his family, and a member of the Wright family.
In reading the record on Bounds, Hakeem noted that "as a juvenile we have no criminal activity listed on your part. As an adult, there was a misdemeanor for reckless operation of a motor vehicle. As a felony, no other items are listed."
Bounds is a high school graduate and he attended Martin College and MTSU. Prior to the shooting, Bounds occupations included accounting and office work, and he served as a night club manager and insurance file clerk.
While in prison, Hakeem mentioned that Bounds has been involved in various educational classes and occupations. "As far as program participation, he has been a teacher's aide, landscape gardener, in the HVAC refrigeration class, carpenter class, computer literacy class, and anger management class."
Bounds is considered a minimum level trustee and during the course of his incarceration he has been involved in two disciplinary issues, the last being in August, 1998, although neither Hakeem nor Taylor mentioned what they were.
According to Hakeem, Bounds received no letters of support for his release on parole but there have been several letters filed in opposition.
Bounds admitted to shooting Wright but he insisted that it was unintentional. In fact, Bounds said he did not expect to see Wright that day, but ran into him while at the game room, where he had stopped to see someone else. "When I went there that day, I didn't even know he was there. At trial there was testimony that someone had dropped him off there. The only reason I stopped was because I saw a friend of mine's vehicle. I pulled in directly behind his vehicle. I didn't know I was even going to see him that day."
Bounds said when he saw Wright he asked to speak with him and they got into an argument. "I did ask to talk to him. He was the one who started outside and I just followed him. He stopped and talked to Ms. (Mary) Mabe at the door and I just proceeded on by him. Actually I was just going to talk to him there. We got outside and we did argue. I thought he was going to draw a weapon on me. I had a weapon. I swung at him but I missed. He stepped back and put his hands in his pocket. I drew my weapon. When he didn't draw a weapon, I was going to hit him with mine (weapon). He reached up and grabbed (the gun). I evidently had my finger on the trigger. Anyway I did shoot him. When Ms Mabe came out I asked her to call an ambulance." Bounds then got in his car and drove to McMinnville where he turned himself in to authorities."
Parole board member Taylor then asked Bounds why he had a gun that day. "I carried a weapon. I operated a business and the (Warren County) sheriff had told me he had heard rumors that I was going to be robbed so I bought a pistol and I just carried it. It's not a good thing but it's the truth."
In making his emotional plea for release, Bounds said " Well I've done a lot of years. Of course, it was a terrible thing that happened. I've always taken responsibility. I've never denied what I did. I've never told anything but the truth. I'm very sorry for what's happened. I can't change that. I've tried to do my time and I've tried to make it profitable as far as myself. I've learned a lot of things. I think I'm a better person. I don't know what more I can do, I've done a lot of time and If I'm ever going to be released, now is the time because my family needs me"
Bounds' niece, Lisa Childers, addressed the board members asking that her uncle be released. She said he is needed at home especially to help care for his ailing mother, Novella Bounds and brother, Billy Bounds. "He is needed at home right now. His mother is very sick and so is my father. There's just not enough of us to take care of everyone and he would be a great big help to us. As far as a job, there's a man in McMinnville that Gerald is friends with who would give him a job. He has a daughter. He also has two grandchildren that he can help raise."
Patricia Bell, whose husband Mike Bell is Bound's cousin also addressed the parole board members. "I have known Gerald for most of my life. I do realize that he made a serious mistake and I think he realizes that. He has paid the ultimate price for it. Nothing he can do could turn around and take back what happened and give a life back. We do realize that and are truly sorry for it. But his mother is in very ill health. She is very elderly. She just had a stroke. She is in the nursing home and we're trying to get her home. His brother is in bad health. He was the caretaker of their mother. He has had a leg amputated. He's had a heart attack. Gerald would be a great help to his family, a great support to his family, his mother, his brother, his daughter, and grandchildren."
Katherine Pack, a first cousin of the victim, spoke on behalf of Wright's mother Louise saying " Her concerns are that she doesn't want someone else to be a victim and that's what she worries about more than anything. We are here in objection to Mr. Bounds being paroled."
In addition to Pack and Wright's mother, other members of the Wright family in attendance at the hearing were Brenice Wright and wife Wanda, Kenny Wright and wife Kathy, and nephew Nick Wright and Christy Cawthorne.
Along with the recommendation that Bounds be denied release, Hakeem and Taylor also recommended that he undergo a psychological evaluation within the next two years.
In addressing Bounds, Hakeem said "To say the least, the Wright family and even your family have been grieved by the actions that you took on that day. Since being in the institution, you have had very limited disciplinary history. As far as criminal activity overall, it's very limited. And to your benefit sir, you have been involved in programs and I truly think that you are not the same person today that you were when you came into the institution. But the fact remains, that you received a jury trial and you were found guilty of first degree murder, and though you have served many years, I have difficulty as far as releasing you at this time. It's going to be my vote to put you off for two years due to the seriousness of the offense and prior to your coming back before the board, that we have a psychological completed on you for propensity for violence"
In his remarks to Bounds, Taylor said "You should be commended. You are the type of candidate for parole that we like to see. You have an exemplary disciplinary record. You have no prior felonies. We see where you continue to try to improve yourself, especially in acquiring an accounting degree. Certainly working in the law library and you're maintaining a minimum trustee level while you're incarcerated. But I agree with Mr. Hakeem. Murder is a serious matter and you are serving a life sentence. I think Mr. Hakeem has been very generous in putting you off for two years. But because of these good things that Mr. Bounds has done, he's only put him off for two more years and asks that he have a psychological evaluation. To that degree I have to confirm and agree with my colleague, Mr. Hakeem that we cannot parole you at this time Mr. Bounds. However, he's only putting you off for two years. I'll agree with that and I'll ask for a psychological evaluation. We're declining you because of the seriousness of the crime. That is my vote today."
Bounds' file will now go to the other five members of the state board of pardons and paroles. They will review the case and cast their votes. The voting continues until there are four concurring votes (either to parole or to deny parole), which is what the law requires for a decision on this offense.
The factors board members consider in making parole decisions include the seriousness of the offense, the amount of time served, support and/or opposition to the parole, victim impact, any disciplinary issues the offender might have had while incarcerated, any programs the offender might have completed while incarcerated, etc.
It generally takes 3-4 weeks to get a final decision in any case.