Released early due to virus orders, man is re-arrested for allegedly murdering 21-yr-old woman in Denver

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Colorado Gov. Jared Polis issued the executive order that led to the release of a man from prison who is now accused of murder.

Less than a month after being released early from his seven-year sentence due to the coronavirus pandemic, Cornelius Haney was arrested again after allegedly killing a 21-year-old Heather Perry in Denver.

(Source: 9News)

Surveillance video was used by police to track Haney after Perry’s body was discovered in Denver on May 9, according to CBS4.

The 40-year-old had been in prison for an armed robbery and was scheduled for parole in August of this year. His record of crimes include drugs and second-degree kidnapping, as well as being in prison previously for felony assault.

But Haney was released on April 15, four months early, due to fears over the spread of the coronavirus among inmates in the prison.

“Mr. Haney has been eligible for parole since 2017. His case was reviewed by the Parole Board, and he was approved for release. He was released on 4-15-2020. Mr. Haney had a mandatory release date of 8-22-2020 and would have been required to be released at that time regardless of the Parole Board decision,” the Department of Corrections said in a statement to CBS4.

Polis issued an executive order in March addressing COVID-19 in prisons, allowing the Colorado Department of Corrections to award “earned time credits” to reduce the current prison population among other measures.

“The potential spread of COVID-19 in … prisons pose a significant threat to prisoners and staff who work in facilities and prisons, as well as the communities to which incarcerated persons will return,” Polis said in the March 25 order.

In a news briefing with reporters on Friday, the Democrat excused Haney’s cold-blooded murder while released under his order by contending that the parolee would have gotten out in a few months anyway.

“He would have had mandatory parole granted in August of this year,” Polis said Friday. “He has been up for parole since 2017.”

“In making those decisions,” he added, speaking of the parole board,” they are taking into account the safety of prison guards and others, but no prisoner who is a danger to society should be released early in any situation,”

“And of course, nobody on that parole board thought that this person was going to do what they allegedly did, but they couldn’t have held them much longer under the law,” he said of the felon with a rap sheet that’s a “dozen-pages long,” according to 9News.

“They’re doing their best to make the best-informed decisions they can to keep Coloradans safe, as they decide within the legal parameters,” Polis added. “Nobody should be released simply because of COVID-19, of course.”

The District attorney, whose office prosecuted Haney’s case, called the murder a “tragedy.”

“I think it’s an incredible and horrible tragedy. It’s like an unforced error,” Republican George Brauchler said, according to the Colorado Sun. “I want to know how many other people out there have been paroled like this. Should be the public be concerned? Because I am.”

Haney is being held without bond and is facing 14 counts, including possession of a weapon by a previous offender, unlawful possession of a controlled substance, theft and attempted second-degree kidnapping.


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