Special Report: A Father’s Plea for Parole

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — A man is pleading for parole for his son, who was convicted in one of the area’s most horrific shootings.

On December 16, 1988, a student did something that had never been done before in Hampton Roads: A student killed a teacher on school grounds. It happened at Atlantic Shore Christian School nearly 30 years ago.

Innocence Lost: The Atlantic Shores School Shooting

The suspect, then 16 years old, Nicholas Elliot, is scheduled to come up for parole in  September.

Elliot shot and killed a teacher, wounded an assistant principal and could have shot more had his gun not jammed and he was tackled to the ground.

Nine times Nicholas Elliot has been up for parole and nine times rejected. But this time — for the first time — his father talks to a parole board member, telling him his son has done his near 30 years of time.

“Unfortunately, he wasn’t clear in his thinking and she [teacher, Karen Farley] was the first one he shot, and unfortunately he killed her,” Clarence Elliot told 10 On Your Side at a home he owns in Norfolk.

Elliot says his son is deeply apologetic and has been for years.

“Every letter he writes he says how sorry he is, that he should have thought more, or should have thought better.”

In or Out: The Possibility of Parole

Clarence Elliott met with parole board member and former Norfolk Delegate Algie Howell last Thursday. He told him how his son had been bullied, and how he felt abandoned by some teachers.

“He made his mind up. He wasn’t going to take it anymore, unfortunately.”

Elliot says during the 45-minute meeting, Howell was somewhat skeptical.

“His concerns were the fact a 16-year-old kid couldn’t differentiate between right and wrong at that point in time,” Elliot remembers.

Nicholas told 10 On Your Side he knows he was wrong in a May phone interview from Nottoway Correctional Center, where he is incarcerated.

“I am constantly thinking how I messed my life up, and messed other people’s lives up…I’m very sorry for what I did.”

Special Report: Bullying to the Brink

Elliot says Howell asked whether Nicholas could be successful in society.

“I assured him he would be successful when he got out because I would be over him like a mother hen, shall we say. I’ll be involved in every portion of his life.”

He told Howell that if Nicholas got parole, he would live in the family’s Norfolk home, he would have food and most importantly, a job.

“I have a friend who has a driving service, and if nothing more, would teach him how to drive. I will send him to driver’s school because he has never had a driver’s license.”

The parole board considers the victims’ family.

Karen Farley’s daughter, Lora, met with Nicholas in prison, has forgiven him and supports parole, too.

“He felt horrible. He feels so much remorse.  He knows what he did was in his eyes unforgivable, but not in my eyes, and not in god’s eyes,” Lora told 10 On Your Side back in May.

Cory Caplan who was in eighth grade at the time visited his classmate Nicholas in prison.

“I am going to write a letter in favor of parole based on my meeting with Nicholas. I saw contrition, and I saw a person who has had more than half his life to think about what he did.”

Caplan admits some of his classmates are reluctant, or don’t support parole, or are indifferent.

“Originally I wanted to have them get all back together, and have this conversation, but as it turns out, it is going to be a personal decision for everyone.”

Wednesday night, a wrinkle in the process: In a stunning development, Governor Terry McAuliffe removed Algie Howell from the parole board. Howell would only say that he serves at the governor’s pleasure and the governor’s office had no comment on why the change. Howell also wouldn’t say whether he would have voted for Nicholas Elliot’s parole.

Since Howell can no longer vote on the parole issue, Clarence Elliot will be given another hearing in front of another parole board member before September’s final parole decision.