Koonce murder sentence commuted after 31 years in jail
Parole Board says ex-Marine from Brockton ‘suitable candidate’
AFTER SPENDING 31 years in jail for murder, Thomas Koonce will soon be a free man.
Gov. Charlie Baker commuted Koonce’s sentence in January and on Tuesday the Parole Board granted Koonce’s petition for parole, which was the final procedural step before Koonce can be released.
“After careful consideration of all relevant facts…we conclude by a unanimous vote that the inmate is a suitable candidate for parole,” the six-member board wrote in its decision.
According to the board’s decision, Koonce will be sent to a residential reentry program in Boston run by Community Resources for Justice for four months. He will live at Brooke House, a center in downtown Boston that houses up to 65 men who are preparing to return to the community after incarceration. The program gives these men help with things like finding work, securing housing, beginning counseling, or entering an educational program.
Koonce, 54, a former Marine from Brockton, was sent to prison for firing out a car window in 1987 during a fight and killing Mark Santos. He claimed he never intended to hit anyone, but has since taken responsibility for his actions. He participated extensively in education, rehabilitation, and restorative justice programs in prison.In January, Baker issued his first two commutations since he entered office, commuting the first-degree murder sentences of Koonce and another man, William Allen, to second-degree murder, making both men eligible for parole. The Governor’s Council confirmed Baker’s commutations in February. The Parole Board held parole hearings in both cases, and the board is still considering Allen’s petition for release.
In its decision, the Parole Board said Koonce has taken responsibility for Santos’ death and “has spent his incarceration working towards his rehabilitation.” He has been a mentor to other incarcerated men, earned a bachelor’s degree and obtained vocational skills, and worked toward rehabilitating himself even when he thought parole was not a possibility. The board wrote that Koonce has “an excellent network of supports in the community,” which will help him reenter society.