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Marjorie Alyce Novak

Forsberg could be eligible for parole this year

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Forsberg could be eligible for parole this year

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HARTINGTON — A Cedar County man serving time in prison for the murder of a Coleridge woman could be eligible for parole this year.

James Forsberg, 84, was sentenced in January 1995, to 50 years in prison for Second Degree Murder in the death of Ellen Gray.

The Good Time law makes him eligible for parole as of Jan. 23, 2019. He is currently serving his sentence in the Tecumseh State Correctional Institution.

Forsberg was convicted of intentionally running down Ellen Gray with his pickup truck Jan. 20, 1994, in downtown Coleridge.

The rural Coleridge farmer was no stranger to the Cedar County Courthouse. 

He was accused of killing his daughter in 1987 and endured a three-month trial.  Eventually, the court acquitted him of all charges related to that incident.

Dept. of Parole spokesman Rhonda Medley said a Parole Review for Forsberg has been scheduled for Jan. 18. 

Medley said this is a closed hearing in which Parole Board members meet to discuss Forsberg, the programming he has been taking and if he would be a good candidate for parole.

Layne Gissler, vice chairman of the Parole Board, said state statute calls for the review of offenders up to three years prior to their expected parole eligibility date.

Forsberg had such a closed-door hearing in 2017, but it was determined at that time, that he should remain incarcerated.

Gissler said if it is decided at this month’s hearing that Forsberg would make a good candidate for parole, then a public parole hearing would be set. That hearing could be scheduled for as early as February in Tecumseh, he said. 

“Our expectations are that they are behaving well in prison,” he said. 

Besides the offender’s prison history, the nature of the crime and a decision as to whether that individual would be a threat to society are also taken into consideration during the closed-door hearing, Gissler said

“If we think that he is a candidate for parole, and that is a big, big if, then a parole hearing is scheduled for at least 30 days later,” he said. 

A 30-day notice is required before parole hearings so the Parole Board has time to get public notices about such a hearing in area newspapers, Gissler said.

State statutes mandate the five-member Parole Board has the responsibility of determining the time of release on parole,

Gissler said that if at any time people are opposed to  or want to show support for  someone’s parole, they can  send a letter to the State Parole Board making sure their opinions are known.

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