WAAY 31 I-TEAM: Former warden talks about accused triple-killer Jimmy Spencer

Jimmy Spencer's warden sizes up the ex-con and has sharp criticism of the parole board that set the now accused killer free.

Posted: Sep 25, 2019 5:28 PM
Updated: Sep 25, 2019 5:30 PM

Jimmy Spencer is the ex-con accused of last year's cold-blooded triple-killing in Guntersville. The brutal murders happened not long after Alabama’s parole board OK'ed Spencer’s release from prison.

WAAY 31's Greg Privett talked with one of Spencer’s former wardens about warning signs that could have kept the accused killer locked up.

“I wouldn’t have let him out,” David Wise told WAAY 31. Wise was the warden at St. Clair Correctional Facility. “Oh, I knew him at St. Clair. And he was trouble. I don’t know how he got out.”

Wise has choice words about Jimmy Spencer. “He was just, for lack of a better term, scum,” Wise said.

Spencer’s charged in the killings of a Guntersville grandmother, her grandson visiting from Huntsville and the woman’s neighbor.

“I sized him up," Wise told us. "He was a troublemaker. He got some disciplinary reports. He didn’t get along well with the staff. He had a terrible record.”

The murders happened in July of last year. The Alabama Board of Pardons and Paroles released Spencer six months earlier.

“I would say the judgment wasn’t good on that one,” Wise said. “I knew that inmate. And he never should have been let out. Spencer is one of those that should have never been let out.”

There was a long list of warning signs that could have kept Spencer locked up. He had trouble coping inside prison walls. Inside St. Clair, Spencer had violent outbursts, broke rules and constantly challenged corrections officers.

“If you can’t get along inside there, what makes you think you can get along outside here," Wise said. "And to me, no convict should get out on parole. I don’t care what he’s convicted of if he can’t show respect for the staff and the rules and regulation of the facility.”

Even so, Wise says deciding whether to release an inmate on parole means weighing risk.

“I think it’s a very difficult job to do," he said. "It’s a risk. And any way you look at it, corrections and parole are in the risk business. It’s just the way it is. You take a risk any time you let one out.”

He said even a non-violent inmate could do the unthinkable. “He could get out and kill somebody the next day.”

Wise insists there were missed opportunities to lock Spencer back inside prison walls.

“What really bothers me about the Spencer case is they were notified when he left that halfway house or whatever it was down in Birmingham. And no action was taken. They didn’t find him. They should have found him and locked him back up then.”

David Wise says Alabama's parole board should listen closely to corrections officers because they know the inmates.

“You have to really get inside the guy’s head," he said. "Why don’t you call that corrections officer that’s been walking around with this guy for 10 years and ask him some questions? “What about that correctional officer down in that cell block? He talked to him every day. He’s the one that watched his habits every day. He’s the one or she’s the one that knows this guy personally. Why not talk to them?”

Huntsville/Redstone
Partly Cloudy
46° wxIcon
Hi: 50° Lo: 35°
Feels Like: 43°
Muscle Shoals
Partly Cloudy
45° wxIcon
Hi: 52° Lo: 36°
Feels Like: 40°
Huntsville/Madison
Mostly Cloudy
43° wxIcon
Hi: 50° Lo: 37°
Feels Like: 39°
Decatur
Partly Cloudy
46° wxIcon
Hi: 52° Lo: 38°
Feels Like: 42°
Fort Payne
Cloudy
43° wxIcon
Hi: 50° Lo: 36°
Feels Like: 43°
WAAY Radar
WAAY WAAY-TV Cam
WAAY Temperatures

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 420681

Reported Deaths: 6119
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson61755921
Mobile30058548
Madison26852186
Tuscaloosa20652266
Montgomery18876305
Shelby18421114
Baldwin16176182
Lee12393101
Morgan12175113
Etowah11687168
Calhoun11078200
Marshall10158107
Houston8556148
Cullman7999105
Limestone796274
Elmore7783101
DeKalb767197
Lauderdale752883
St. Clair7502120
Talladega6145108
Walker5880174
Jackson578841
Colbert529873
Blount529283
Autauga515455
Coffee438156
Dale394381
Franklin365248
Chilton335365
Covington326968
Russell326810
Escambia316142
Dallas302896
Chambers281869
Clarke279633
Tallapoosa2607107
Pike247629
Marion244650
Lawrence242547
Winston225535
Bibb214447
Geneva199535
Marengo197829
Pickens196231
Hale175442
Barbour172336
Butler168458
Fayette167126
Cherokee160030
Henry152721
Monroe145017
Randolph138835
Washington137026
Clay126145
Crenshaw118644
Lamar117519
Cleburne117223
Macon114335
Lowndes109535
Wilcox102621
Bullock98728
Perry96919
Conecuh94220
Sumter88826
Greene75723
Coosa60515
Choctaw51224
Out of AL00
Unassigned00

Tennessee Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 680847

Reported Deaths: 8355
CountyCasesDeaths
Shelby757471115
Davidson70180656
Knox38327390
Hamilton34288326
Rutherford32907282
Unassigned22485127
Williamson21226138
Sumner18067229
Out of TN1593479
Wilson14327154
Montgomery14229148
Sullivan12473210
Washington11818191
Blount11784123
Maury10903123
Bradley1066290
Sevier10406108
Putnam9896136
Madison9031178
Robertson757085
Hamblen6910109
Anderson6723102
Greene6548108
Tipton616265
Gibson5594111
Coffee557281
Cumberland535272
Dickson532677
Bedford530386
Roane515078
Carter5074112
Lawrence506369
McMinn503273
Warren496253
Loudon490750
Dyer471582
Jefferson470575
Monroe452162
Hawkins441768
Franklin407958
Obion398978
Fayette391751
Rhea379156
Lincoln376144
Cocke341256
Marshall340336
Weakley338248
Cheatham333529
Henderson331656
Campbell319740
Giles319371
White308543
Hardeman307652
Carroll306159
Hardin296047
Lauderdale292831
Macon287050
Wayne260019
Henry259158
Overton251342
DeKalb241241
Haywood238545
McNairy236842
Smith230027
Trousdale228614
Marion226631
Scott223631
Hickman221734
Fentress212331
Grainger207235
Claiborne205522
Johnson201232
Morgan187114
Crockett180038
Bledsoe173210
Chester172237
Unicoi165943
Cannon156619
Lake154519
Decatur146426
Polk141817
Grundy139120
Union137721
Sequatchie135618
Humphreys132017
Benton131935
Lewis127220
Meigs113316
Stewart104320
Jackson103421
Perry94525
Clay93426
Houston93322
Moore7949
Pickett67419
Van Buren6567
Hancock4026

Community Events