Man wins parole eligibility after spending two-thirds of life in prison

A man who has been in prison for murder since he was 15 had his sentenced changed Wednesday to allow the possibility of parole by Nevada's Pardons and Parole Board.

Bennie Ficklin, how 40, has spent nearly 25 years in prison and, according to the records, has become a model prisoner.

"It was a horrible crime that I did," he said. "I ask this honorable board to see that I am a different person today."

"I hope you see a responsible inmate instead of a lost and confused kid who did a horrible crime," he told the board.

Ficklin was robbing a Las Vegas bar when he put a shotgun to the head of a customer he thought wasn't cooperating and pulled the trigger. He was sentenced to life without possible parole.

The commutation was supported by Director of Corrections Glen Whorton, who pointed out Ficklin was the only person on the agenda for a violent crime he recommended receive clemency.

He said Ficklin's age at the time of the crime, as well as his conduct in prison, were the reason for his recommendation.

The same logic - especially Ficklin's age at the time - was the basis for support by several other members of the board as well. Attorney General George Chanos cast the only no vote.

Dorla Salling, head of the parole board, said Ficklin's application for release would be heard either in January or February.

Other actions taken by Nevada's Pardons and Parole Board:

• The board also voted to make Lisa Kerwin, one of the system's few female murderers, eligible for parole in 2008. She had requested immediate eligibility but the board felt she should wait two more years at least.

Kerwin, now 41, was convicted in 1989 of shooting Tracy Hyland to death at his Lake Street residence in Reno.

• The board denied clemency to Lawrence Baccari, serving life without parole for murder committed 28 years ago in Las Vegas.

• They also denied a request to roll six sexual assault counts together and run them concurrently instead of consecutively for Jeffrey Brillhart. The six counts all stem from the rape of a Las Vegas woman 17 years ago.

• But they granted parole eligibility to Harold Lyons, 70, who was serving life without possible parole as an habitual criminal.


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