Parole for James Hamm Jr. still hanging in the balance, decision expected in coming weeks


JOHNSON CITY. Tenn. (WJHL)- The man convicted of driving drunk and killing a former state lawmaker in Kingsport five years ago, had a parole hearing Tuesday morning.

James Hamm Jr. hit and killed Mike Locke in 2014.

Locke was putting up campaign signs on the shoulder of a bridge on Fort Henry Drive in Kingsport, to help friend State Representative Bud Hulsey.

“In the same system, we have nonviolent felons who are serving longer sentences than five years. “There is no way in the name of justice, in any for of equity that the parole board ought to grant parole for Mr. Hamm when he’s only served five years of his sentence,” Representative Hulsey said.

Pictured: Mike Locke

Hamm was sentenced to 15 years behind bars and has served five of those years. Due to a prison credit system, he has now been up for parole twice.

Last month Locke’s family told News Channel 11 they wanted Hamm to remain in jail.

“It’s like an open wound. It’s like rubbing salt in the wound all over again. It can never heal,” Locke’s widow, Debbie Locke said. This is something that has been going on for five years. There is something about every six to eight months; a letter that I receive, what he’s doing, how he’s moving, classes he’s taking.”

To many people, Mike Locke was their state representative, but to Debbie, he was her Mike.

She said, “Mike was the glue to our family and it will just never be the same.”

PREVIOUS STORY:Family of Mike Locke asking state to deny parole for James Hamm Jr.

As Locke’s family found out Tuesday, they will have to wait just a little longer for a final decision on parole.

In the coming weeks four of the six other parole board members will have to say “no” in order for Hamm to be denied parole this time around.

Photo: WJHL

Pheben was told that decision will come within the next 14 days.

If Hamm is denied parole this time, he will be back up for parole again in two years.

Sullivan County District Attorney General Barry Staubus cited Hamm’s history of dangerous driving as a reason to keep him behind bars.

“Back on June the 19th, 2014, he drank, he was pulled over,he was arrested and he was 3x the limit,” General Staubus said. “And I bring these facts out because it shows complete disregard for not only the safety and the death that you caused Mr. Locke but other individuals who were also innocent. They were minding their own business out in the parking lot, someone dining in the restaurant nearly hit.”

The brother of Mike, David Locke said, “Mike’s not going to get another chance to come back from Heaven and walk around, so why should Mr. Hamm get a chance to have a parole and enjoy this world that God has given us?”

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