Exclusive: Jens Soering shocked on news Gov. McAuliffe won't act on pardon request
Lynchburg, VA (WSET) Jens Soering tells ABC 13 News he was shocked when he heard the news that Governor Terry McAuliffe won't be acting on his request for an absolute pardon.
Last week the Governor told ABC 13 the investigation into Soering's case won't be completed before he leaves office, so he won't be making a decision.
Noreen Turyn spoke with Soering over the telephone, as in person interviews are no longer allowed at the Buckingham Correctional Center. He says he was under the impression that the governor would make a decision before he left office, so the news came as a blow. "He said that he would make a decision regardless of political consequences-- let the chips fall as they may. That was the last I heard from the governor on public radio as recently as October so my reaction was 'where did that come from?' Shock, disappointment, " says Soering.
The Governor's office says the governor was referring to pardon applications that had been fully investigated and presented to him, and not specifically Soering's case.
Soering insists he lied when he confessed to killing his girlfriend's parents Derek and Nancy Haysom in Bedford County back in 1985, to spare her the death penalty. He thought he'd be sent back to Germany to serve his time there.
DNA testing on the type O blood samples used to convict him has eliminated Soering as the contributor of those samples, and revealed two unidentified males. Soering believes then-girlfriend Elizabeth Haysom and these two men killed her parents. Numerous experts have since reviewed the case and also believe Soering is innocent. The Innocence Project reports 28 percent of all cases where people were exonerated based on DNA testing involved false confessions.
Bedford County Major Ricky Gardner, who was a detective on the case at the time continues to insist they convicted the right person.
Soering still has hope in the next administration, when Ralph Northam takes office. "Dr. Northam is a pediatric neurosurgeon so he's a man of science. .. he understands DNA and so my feeling is that he is going to focus on the science and not the 'he said she said' nonsense that has clouded up this case from the beginning. So as long as this is decided on the science- yeah absolutely I feel Dr. Northam is going to come to the right decision," Soering says.
Soering petitioned for an absolute pardon in August of 2016. As of yet the full investigation into his case is not yet underway. The chairman of the parole board, Adrianne Bennett, tells ABC 13 it will begin as soon as the case before his is finished. However, she says they have been looking at pieces of information as they come in to the office.