Ransford Bryan III, who pleaded guilty to the 1987 killing of his friend, Douglas Brockway, was paroled April 18 by the Delaware Board of Parole.
Brockway’s mother, Peggy, fought against Bryan’s release.
Johnette Graf, spokeswoman for the Delaware Department of Corrections, said Bryan, who has been in jail nearly 30 years, would be on work release before transitioning into monitored probation.
Peggy Brockway said her family is disappointed in the criminal justice system, but she had expected and prepared herself for Bryan’s release after the hearing. Flanked by her daughter, Missy Brockway-Walls, and fighting back tears, Brockway said she would like to see reforms to the parole system that would give the public greater say in the release of violent criminals like Bryan. Brockway said Bryan is a cold person who she does not believe has changed.
Bryan and Brockway had gone out squirrel hunting together in 1987; when Bryan returned home but Brockway did not, a search was launched. Bryan had been living with the Brockway family at the time Douglas disappeared, and he continued living with them as investigators continued to search. Douglas Brockway’s body was found two weeks later in a wooded area of Sussex County, dead of a gunshot wound to the back of the head.
Bryan originally pleaded not guilty, but he later took a plea bargain and was sentenced to life in prison without possibility of parole. The case was appealed to Delaware Supreme Court, which ordered a new trial, ruling Bryan had been questioned by police without an attorney present. At the second trial Bryan’s sentence was changed to life in prison with possibility of parole.
Bryan, now in his mid-40s and incarcerated since he was 18, has been the subject of parole hearings since 2004. Since 2014, he has been up for parole every year; his release has been opposed by the Brockway family and others. His attorney argued that Bryan has been a model prisoner, participating in prison programs.
Andrew Rosen, attorney for Bryan, said, “Mr. Bryan has put together an impressive record of rehabilitation during his almost 30 years in prison, and he looks forward to continuing his efforts at personal improvement on the outside. At the same time, we also understand the additional anguish this may cause the Brockway family. Mr. Bryan will not make any effort to contact the family unless they make it clear that they wish to speak to him through an agency such as Victim's Voices Heard.”
Carl Kanefsky, spokesman for the Delaware Department of Justice, said the department opposed Bryan’s parole.
“We are disappointed in the decision and believe that the board should have respected the sentence that was imposed,” he said.