Drake parole hearing Tuesday

James Drake

A man who’s been behind bars since 1984 after being convicted as an accessory to the stabbing death of his sister-in-law should be released on parole, his defense attorney said.

“The guy has served more than sufficient time,” David Eisner said of James Drake, whom he successfully defended in 1984 against a murder charge. “I don’t think anyone needs to be afraid of this guy.”

Drake was convicted as an accessory to the 1982 murder of Regina Forrest Drake as she lay asleep in her bed with her three young sons.

Her relatives maintain that James actually stabbed Regina multiple times while her husband and his brother, Richard Drake, was working at a Grand Junction bakery.

A community corrections board in Durango this year accepted James Drake, who has been imprisoned since he was convicted on the accessory charge. The parole board is to consider his parole request on Tuesday.

Mesa County District Attorney Pete Hautzinger said in a letter to the parole board that Drake should “never, never be paroled.”

Bill Kain, the district attorney who originally prosecuted both Drakes, also opposes James’ parole.

Regina’s brother, Rick Forrest, has consistently opposed parole for James and Richard, citing reports that Richard Drake was working when the murder occurred and that James Drake’s clothing was covered in Regina’s blood when Drake was arrested.

James Drake said he cooperated because he was threatened by his brother. Authorities said the Drakes planned to split a $10,000 insurance policy Richard Drake had recently taken out on his wife.

“After 29 years, this man still refuses to show any remorse or take any responsibility for what he did in the early morning hours of Dec. 16, 1982,” when Regina was stabbed to death, Forrest wrote to the community corrections board in Durango.

James never wavered from his statement that he was brought in by his brother to dispose of the murder weapon, Eisner said in a letter to the parole board.

His sentence “did not include a legal determination that he was a killer in the case involving Regina Drake,” Eisner said.

James Drake was sentenced to prison because he was deemed to be a habitual criminal, making him eligible for a life sentence. Had he been sentenced under current law, James Drake would have been given a 24-year sentence, which he would have completed by now.

Drake has acquired training in the installation of vinyl siding and other skills, officials said.

He should be given the chance to use those skills, Eisner said.

“The parole board’s decision should not be controlled by the anger of the victim’s family or the frustrated prosecutor who could not obtain a homicide conviction,” Eisner wrote to the parole board. “Fairness to James Drake and respect for the rule of law require otherwise.”


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