Would-be cop killer up for parole

Oklahoma City_ A man convicted of driving over an Oklahoma Highway Patrol lieutenant wants out of prison early. Seven years ago, Kelly Don Ledford ran over Lt. Tom Downs during a high speed chase.  Investigators say Ledford, who drove at speeds exceeding 100 miles per hour, was under the influence of methamphetamines and feared arrest for a warrant issued because of a bogus check. Lt. Downs, at that time, was assisting in stopping a high speed pursuit near Chickasha by laying stop spikes across the highway.  That's when Ledford ran over the stop spikes and then ran over Downs.  Witnesses to the crime said that he appeared to go out of his way to hit him.

A jury found Ledford guilty and convicted him on 8 felony counts: assault with a deadly weapon, assault and battery with a deadly weapon, possession of a firearm in commission of a felony, unlawful possession of stolen property, attempting to elude police officers, possession of drug paraphenalia, illegal use of a radio during the commission of a crime and resisting arrest.  He was sentenced to 41 years in prison, which he is serving at the Lexington Correctional Facility.

Ledford's crimes put Trooper Downs in a coma and ended his career. Now, just seven years later, Ledford is up for parole.

Between late December, 2000, and early January, 2001, there were 7 more incidents of Oklahoma Highway Patrol officers being hit by motorists.  Three of the officers also were critically injured.  "Is that really the message we want to send, that the state of Oklahoma doesn't view the attempted murder of law enforcement officers as a serious offense?" Rep. Don Armes of Faxon asked.

Rep. Armes, among others, feels that if Ledford is released early that it make it seem like nothing more than a slap on the wrist and a 'don't do that again' warning.  District Attorney Bret Burns is asserting that Ledford is "a very dangerous person who should not be released from prison before serving his full term."

Ledford is up for parole at the August 14 meeting of the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board.   "There is no parole for Tom's disabilities that he will live with for the rest of his life.  He doesn't get a shot for parole for his injuries.  Why should Ledford get paroled for causing them?", said Armes.