Friday, September 19, 2014

TOP STORY >> Killer worked at Cabot school gym

Leader editor-in-chief

A murderer who is serving a life sentence without parole was installing a wall mat this week at the Cabot Junior High North gym as part of a prison work-release program.

Glen Martin Green, who works inside the prison system for Arkansas Correctional Industries, has been in the factory and repair program at the Tucker Unit since 1990.

Green was part of the prison work crew at the junior high on Monday with an unarmed supervisor. School Superintendent Tony Thurman didn’t know Green was at the school until we contacted him on Thursday.

Thurman said, from now on, the district will insist that prisoners not be allowed on campus when students are in class.

Green, 60, is a former Air Force sergeant who, in 1974, kidnapped 18-year-old Helen Lynette Spencer at Little Rock Air Force Base, then raped, tortured and killed her in Lonoke County. He was convicted in Lonoke County Circuit Court in 1975.

He tortured and raped the young woman and dumped her body in a creek off Graham Road just inside Lonoke County.

I wrote about Green when he unsuccessfully sought clemency from Gov. Mike Huckabee in 2004.

Huckabee had considered granting Green clemency but backed off after we described how Green had killed the young woman.

Green beat Spencer with Chinese martial-arts sticks and raped her as she barely clung to life. He then ran over her with his car before throwing the teenager into Twin Prairie Bayou, her hand reaching up, as if begging for mercy.

Lonoke County Prosecuting Attorney Chuck Graham was upset when he found out Green was working on campus. He said he was sickened when he’d seen the photo in The Leader of the young woman reaching out from the water.

“They don’t need to have these convicted killers installing these things,” he said. “This guy travels around the state with minimal escorts and no shackles. It’s absurd.

“He killed a young woman who had her whole life ahead of her, and she lost it,” Graham continued. “Once I read what this guy had done, I was shocked they let him near our kids. We’re not supposed to have convicted murderers around our kids.”

Thurman confirmed Thursday that Green was working at the school gym.

“We purchase our safety mats for gyms from ACI (Arkansas Correctional Industries),” Thurman wrote in an email at week’s end. “Evidently, most schools use ACI and we’ve used them in the past.

“They were installing a wall mat in a gym on Monday. (Athletic Director Steve) Roberts worked with them and they have a supervisor with them at all times,” Thurman continued. “I do not agree with ACI allowing an individual with that type of criminal history to work in schools.

“We will certainly be having discussions on whether to continue with ACI based on the information you’ve provided,” he told us. “If we do continue to purchase any of the items they manufacture, it would need to be installed when school is not in session.”

When contacted, Stephen Williams, the warden at Tucker Unit, said Green, who is a trustee at the prison, was at Cabot Junior High North this week with an unarmed supervisor who accompanies prisoners to schools around Arkansas.

Williams said trustees also install furniture at state agencies and at Camp Robinson and Fort Chaffee.

The warden said Green has had no disciplinary problems.

“This inmate has done well for us,” Williams said. “We don’t let him out unsupervised.”

He said prisoners also make school-recreation equipment and metal beds for military installations, repair tanker trucks for volunteer fire departments and even make soap and detergent for state prisons.

Green, who could have applied for clemency again in 2007, hasn’t applied since, the warden said.

As a result of legislation passed during the worst excesses of the Huckabee years, governors must now tell us why they’re pardoning criminals. No violent criminals have been pardoned since Huckabee left office.

The publicity over the pardons and clemencies ended Huckabee’s streak of more than 1,000 commutations and pardons, the most by any governor since Orval Faubus.

Huckabee usually ignored us when we advised him not to free murderers and rapists, such as Wayne Dumond, who later killed two women in Missouri.

Against the advice of local prosecutors, Huckabee also pardoned a career criminal named Maurice Clemmons in 2004. Five years later, he killed four law-enforcement officers near Tacoma, Wash.

The governor was warned numerous times about letting Clemmons go free, but he wouldn’t listen.

At least Green is still behind bars, except when he works outside prison.

State prison officials told us Friday afternoon they will comply with Cabot’s request barring violent criminals from schools when children are in class.

“They will not be allowed to return to the Cabot School District unless we have that guarantee,” Thurman said Friday.

“According to my research, they have a good product,” the superintendent said. “We will continue to purchase items only if we are assured that they will only be installed when school is not in session.”