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Man who killed Richmond police officer granted parole despite life sentence

Posted at 12:06 AM, Apr 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-14 12:14:28-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- A man who killed a Richmond Police Officer in 1979 is being granted parole.

The Davis Market on Madison Street is in a relatively safe location, just one block from the Richmond Police headquarters.

But four decades ago the neighborhood was different.

On November 13, 1979, Vincent Martin and a group of accomplices robbed the 7-Eleven store that once stood there.

After getting the money, they hopped into a getaway car and sped off, going the wrong way down the street.

A young officer, Michael Connors, spotted them moments later.

Knowing nothing about the robbery, he flipped on his emergency lights and stopped the car at Linden Street.

"I was in the process of a different arrest in Church Hill when I heard the call and I stopped and helped clear out the parking lot of MCV to get the doors open," said Tom Macknight, a fellow officer and friend to Connors.

Just seconds after getting out of his cruiser, the 23-year-old Connors was shot in the neck.

The man who pulled the trigger was Vincent Martin.

Martin, also 23, but with a long history of violence, then walked up to the wounded officer laying on the ground and shot five more rounds at close range into his head.

"He could've left after the first shot but he didn't and that shows you what kind of a person he is,” said Macknight. "I was probably one of the last policemen to see him as he came through the doors. It was an unforgettable sight."

Martin was later arrested, convicted, and sentenced to death.

But he appealed that sentence and won, and got his sentence changed to life, plus 29 years.

Then last month, the Connors family received a phone call from Virginia Parole Board Chair Adrianne Bennett.

“My father was grief-stricken and sobbing and said this isn't going to go our way,” said Maureen Clements, Connors’ sister. “This is a done deal. They'll let him out no matter what we say."

His fear proved correct, getting word on Good Friday that his son’s murderer was indeed granted parole.

Now, at the age of 64, Martin, despite a life sentence, could soon walk free.

Michael Connors’ family left in a cloud of confusion, saying they don't understand how that could be justice and that they will fight to keep Martin behind bars.