GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The Michigan Parole Board failed to do its job when it ordered the release of Alpine Manor Nursing Home serial killer Catherine Wood from prison, a judge ruled Thursday.
Kent County Circuit Judge Joseph Rossi ordered the parole board to once again review Wood’s request for parole.
“A potential serial killer who conspired to commit a series of murders to keep her love cannot become a mere checkmark in the press of the Court’s or the Board’s daily business,” the judge wrote in the five- page ruling.
“The assurance of public safety requires an exceptional level of diligence and care in arriving at this decision,” the judge added.
In his ruling issued on Thursday, Rossi ruled the parole board failed to determine the risk posed by releasing Wood.
“At the core of assuring public safety is an assessment of the risk of a defendant ‘committing further assaultive crime,'” the judge wrote. “But the record contains no future risk assessment.”
“The acknowledged lack of any assessment calls into question whether the board followed the clear regulatory guidance,” the judge stated.
In September, the Michigan parole board ordered Wood released on parole. She’s already served 30 years of her 20- to 40-year sentence.
Her victims’ families appealed, arguing that she was more involved in the killings than she’s admitted, is gaming the system and is faking remorse. They believe she would kill again.
Wood and her lover, Gwendolyn Graham, were both nurse’s aides at what was then Alpine Manor Nursing Home in Walker the late 1980s. They killed five elderly patients. Wood has said she was a lookout and that Graham was the killer. Graham is in prison for life.
The judge on Thursday also said the parole board didn’t do enough to determine Wood’s plan after she’s released.
“There is no analysis of her prospects for employment following discharge,” the ruling states. “There is no discussion regarding the types of jobs for which Ms. Wood is best suited.”
“The most glaring omission is the lack of any restriction on Ms. Wood caring for elderly or disabled individuals as a condition of parole.”
The judge also said the state had not recently conduct a psychological evaluation on Wood.
The judge also questioned whether Wood is truly remorseful, saying the first hint of any remorse was in 2015, even though she was still minimizing her involvement in the deaths.
He wrote that the evaluations in 2015 and 2016 failed to “mention or explore the possibility that the defendant is feigning remorse to boost her chances of receiving parole.
“Her desire to build her case for parole beginning in 2008 is palpable from the record. The reviewers’ failure to even raise the issue of Ms. Wood’s obvious self-interest jumps off the page.”
The judge said a new assessment should explore Wood’s co-dependency, which played a role in the murders.
“Her co-dependent relationship with Gwendolyn Graham, and the desire to prolong it at any price, drove her to participate in multiple murders of helpless victims,” the judge wrote.
Citing court rules, the judge said the board must make a decision within 28 days of his ruling, unless it needs more time.