Kaine: “No Regrets” for Almost Releasing Convicted Double Murderer

Jens Soering.  If you’re not already familiar with this name, take some time to learn it because it is likely that his will be a household name before the end of the 2012 Senate campaign.

Here’s the abbreviated version of his story: in 1985, Soering—a German national and son of a West German diplomat—was an 18 year-old, first-year student at the University of Virginia when he was accused of brutally murdering his girlfriend’s parents, Derek and Nancy Haysom, in their Bedford County home.  Shortly after the murders, Soering and his girlfriend fled to London where they were apprehended by British authorities and eventually extradited to Virginia.  At the trial, Jens Soering admitted to murdering the Haysoms and was sentenced to two life sentences.

Fast-forward to January 2010: while Tim Kaine was preparing to leave the Governor’s Mansion, he approved Jens Soering’s request to be returned to his native Germany where it was estimated he could serve—at most—two additional years in prison.  Almost immediately after assuming office, Gov. Bob McDonnell intervened and Soering was forced to remain in Virginia, behind bars at the Buckingham Correctional Center.

While former Governor Kaine’s actions were roundly criticized at the time, especially by the Bedford County law enforcement community that worked so hard to bring the Haysoms’ murder to justice, the most thorough examination of them may lie ahead, as the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) recently filed Freedom of Information Act requests with a number of agencies at both the state and federal levels, seeking internal Kaine Administration documents on the former governor’s deliberations on Soering’s transfer agreement.

When questioned about the NRSC’s investigation, Tim Kaine told the Associated Press that he had “no regrets”: “‘From my time on the City Council in 1994 to the end of my time as governor, I’ve made decisions that people could argue with,’….  ‘Even if they disagree with you on an issue, they can respect that someone with conviction is in the position.’”  Kaine went on to offer two possible explanations for his actions in the Soering case: first, “‘I frankly thought that I wouldn’t see my name on a ballot again’….” and second, “‘…I did feel like Virginians have paid for his incarceration for a very long time, let the Germans pay to keep this guy.’”  The reader can decide for himself or herself, which explanation seems more plausible.

Nonetheless, it is easy to understand why the NRSC is so keenly interested in the former governor’s decision to return Jens Soering to Germany—especially if George Allen emerges as the Republican nominee: what could make for a more interesting campaign narrative than “the former governor who abolished parole vs. the former governor who tried to return a convicted double-murderer to his native country where he might only serve an additional two years in prison”?  If that is the contrast voters have in mind when they cast their ballots on November 6, 2012, the NRSC is betting it can win that race.  It might be a safe bet, too.

  • J.Nowlin
  • Jason Johnson,

    One of the links you provided states that he would only be ELIGIBLE for parole after two years in Germany. The link states that here in Virginia he has been eligible for parole since 2003.

  • HisRoc

    “I frankly thought that I wouldn’t see my name on a ballot again….”

    Translation: screw the voters. Now that I don’t have to pander to them, I can do whatever I want regardless of the popular will of the people and the sense of justice in the Commonwealth.

    Not exactly a Profiles In Courage chapter. When Kaine was Governor, I gave him credit for enforcing the Commonwealth’s death penalty statute, regardless of his personal beliefs. With the Soering case, he lost any and all credibility with me. I would have have Chuck “Do-Nothing” Robb back in the Senate than this clown.

  • HisRoc

    BTW, I lived in Germany for a total of 8 years during my military career. I don’t recall a single instance when an American in a German prison was released early to return to the US under any circumstances.

  • David,

    You are correct: Since Jens Soering was convicted before Gov. Allen abolished parole, he is eligible for parole. The truth is, however, his requests have been rejected every year and due to the particularly heinous nature of the crime, there is almost no chance he will ever receive parole as long as he remains in Virginia. We would have had no such guarantee if he had be repatriated.

  • And Kaine just gave a big middle finger to law enforcement in VA.

  • Ponder Replay

    Soering is common knowledge here in Charlottesville.

    Also, research Biscuit Run. Kaine Cronies making out like bandits. With the help of Kaine, naturally.

  • H. Elwood

    Mr. Johnson’s article is rampant with examples of creative and misleading editing. Start with the title: “Kaine: ‘No Regrets’ for Almost Releasing Convicted Double Murderer” Kaine was NOT going to release this prisoner, but was going to hand him over to German authorities for incarceration in that country.

    Johnson also states, “it was estimated he (Soering) could serve—at most—two additional years in prison.” First, I could find no reference in the original News Advance article that provides this estimate. Second, Soering is ALREADY eligible for parole in Virginia, and will be up for assessment later this year. So it could be said Soering COULD serve, at most, LESS THAN ONE additional year in Virginia. What the original News Advance article DOES state is that the Germans will keep him in jail AT LEAST two more years before any further assessments can even be made in his status.

    Additionally, Johnson’s article makes it appear that Kaine was commenting on the potential transfer of Soering to German authorities when he said, “I frankly thought that I wouldn’t see my name on a ballot again.” The truth is, Kaine made this statement at a time completely disconnected from the discussion about the Soering case.

    Like or dislike Tim Kaine, but Mr. Johnson should be ashamed of this particular piece of misleading journalism.

  • HisRoc

    Mr. Elwood,

    Don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time. Commit murder in Virginia and expect to serve time in Virginia. The plaintiff, the aggrieved party, in this case was the Commonwealth of Virginia, not the Bundesrepublik Deutschland.

    Herr Soering can return to his fatherland when and if we decide to release him from prison. Until then, his disposition will be subject to our vision of criminal justice. Period.

  • Mr. Johnson, As Jens Soering’s attorney I ask you to do more investigation when you write a story. In fact, Jens Soering DID NOT “admit to murdering the Haysom’s at the trial.” He pleaded not guilty because, indeed, he is not guilty of these murders. Should you really be interested in his case, please go to jenssoering.com to find out the true facts. Gail A. Ball, Esquire

  • Mrs. Ball, may your client burn in hell, he committed the murders and confessed multiple times to the Bedford County Deputy.

  • Pingback: Bedford County Sheriff: Jens Soering Anniversary Reminds us of the Real Tim Kaine – Bearing Drift: Virginia's Conservative Voice()

  • Mike Stohler

    Dear Garret Watson

    You know nothing about this case. Why are you such blinded by hatred? Is that the new american way of life?
    Im from Switzerland and i lived 1 Year in America in the 70′. But the America of this decade is awesome….

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