Special Report: The Road to Possible Parole

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — The process is pushing along for the young man convicted of a school shooting almost 30 years ago.

Only 10 On Your Side has been covering the possible parole for convicted killer Nicholas Elliot for several months. He was convicted in the shooting at Atlantic Shores Christian School back in 1988 that killed teacher Karen Farley and wounded another person.

Innocence Lost: The Atlantic Shores School Shooting

As we wait for the next parole decision in September, something pretty incredible happened in this case Friday.

The Virginia Parole Board decides in September, but first a probation manager visited Nicholas Elliot Thursday at Nottoway Correctional Center. The notes and opinions from that interview will be passed onto the parole board for its final decision. That’s only part of our story. The second part is bringing Nicholas a voice he hasn’t heard in 20 years.

During Thursday’s 30-minute parole interview, Nicholas Elliot was asked, “What would you say to people opposed to your release?”

He replied, “As for some people who may not forgive me, I can’t do anything about that, but I have no desire to harm, or do anything to anybody or commit any crimes whatsoever.”

In or Out: The Possibility of Parole

The most important forgiveness comes from Karen Farley’s daughter, Lora Farley Graham.

“If he comes into this home, he would be welcomed. Yes. Why not? If I don’t show him the love of Christ, then who is going to show it to him?” she asks.

You can’t find more amazing grace than the forgiveness given to Elliot by Lora Farley Graham. Elliot was 16 when he killed Lora’s mother. Today, he’s 44 and has spent nearly 30 years in prison. Elliot spoke about that in the interview.

“The pain and suffering I have done in other people’s lives, lives with me forever,” Elliot said. “It doesn’t feel good at all.”

Elliot spoke about his prison education.

“I let him know I was in the computer literacy class… When people come into the library, I help them navigate the computers… how to operate them.”

If granted parole, what are his plans and goals? He was asked that, too.

“The first thing, I would get my driver’s license and learn to drive. I would get two jobs and get acclimated back into society. My dad would let me live at his home.”

Special Report: A Father’s Plea for Parole

10 On Your Side then surprised Nicholas with the voice of his father, which he hasn’t heard in 20 years. We put both on speaker phones and let them speak to each other. We asked Nicholas, “What would you like to say to your father, Clarence?”

Nicholas: “Hey, Dad, how are you doing?”

Clarence Elliot: “Hey son, it’s good to hear your voice. How are you doing?”

Nicholas: “Hey, I’m just trying to make it. I’m trying to survive.”

Clarence: “How do you feel about the hearing you had yesterday?”

Nicholas: “It was pretty good. It was alright.”

Nicholas Elliot had told WAVY’s Andy Fox earlier in our interview, “It wasn’t positive or negative, it was neutral.”

Their conversation turned to a possible future.

Clarence: “You are my son, and I will make sure that any and everything you need will be available to you.”

Nicholas: “I appreciate that.”

Clarence: “You don’t have to worry about where you are going to live, you don’t have to worry about anything once you are free. I will be taking care of any training and educational upgrades that you need.”

Clarence says his friends could hire Nicholas as a commercial driver. That struck a chord with Nicholas.  “That is something I would be interested in doing. Eighteen wheelers, trash trucks, buses any of the big trucks, or big vehicles.”

Clarence says, “All he has to do is put forth the effort and I’ve got this back.”

Nicholas responded, “That’s what I’m doing. I’m taking the initiative and learning the most that I can.  I’ve been doing it for all these years.”

They also talked about Lora’s forgiveness.

“I am grateful, I am grateful to her compassion and her understanding and her forgiveness of me and her  constant communication with me,” Nicholas said.

Andy Fox asked both father and son what it felt like to hear each other’s voices. Clarence said, “I have been lifted 10 inches off the floor.” Nicholas added from his end, “It’s exciting and it feels good, because I haven’t heard his voice in so long. It’s good to hear his voice. I know he’s out there and on my side.”

They ended the call with this: “I love you dad,” Nicholas said. Clarence answered, “And I love you too. Be strong. We are still pushing.” Nicholas said, “I thank Lora and all what Lora has done for me.”

Elliot’s crime was so violent, to get parole, he must get a super majority of the five parole board members. That’s four votes. The problem? Last week, Governor Terry McAuliffe fired former Norfolk Delegate Algie Howell from the board. He has not been replaced.

The parole board could not answer if or how that could impact Nicholas Elliot’s parole decision. That was a question Nicholas asked at the parole interview.