boston.com your connection to The Boston Globe

Murderer denied parole after daughter's pleas

CONCORD, N.H. --A former Hudson man convicted of murdering his wife 26 years ago has been denied parole, following an emotional hearing where his daughter said she would fear for her life if he were released.

At a parole hearing last week, John Little, 65, sat motionless and stared in the opposite direction as his daughter, eight feet away behind the bench, wept uncontrollably, recounting several years of molestation she claims occurred before the 1981 murder of her mother, Deborah Little.

"This was the man that was supposed to be my father," she told members of the parole board, reading from a statement. "The reason he is a role-model prisoner is because there are no women or children for him to hurt."

Last year, a jury acquitted Little of charges he sexually abused his daughter, who is now in her 30s and married. Despite the acquittal, much of the testimony at Thursday's parole hearing focused on those charges.

Justin Shepherd, an assistant Hillsborough County attorney who prosecuted the sexual assault case, testified against granting parole, telling the board that jurors in the case only got a "very limited snapshot" of the evidence against Little.

"The state wasn't playing with a full deck," said Shepherd.

Little's daughter, who did not want her name to be used, had told police she had been molested since she was 3, but because of the statute of limitations, prosecutors were not able to file charges for the earlier allegations.

Little's daughter first publicly made the allegations of sexual abuse in 1996, during a court hearing when her father was arguing for a reduced sentence. An investigation into the claims did not begin until 2004, when she again testified about the alleged abuse at Little's last parole hearing.

Because there was no corroborating evidence, a jury acquitted Little of three felonious sexual assault charges in July, which meant Little would become eligible for parole. Little has denied ever molesting his daughter.

At Thursday's hearing, Cecile Hartigan, a member of the parole board, asked Little what he has done to rehabilitate himself.

"I've served 26 years in prison," Little replied.

Hartigan told Little 26 years served in prison does not equate to rehabilitation.

The Parole Board recommended a psychological evaluation to determine whether Little was remorseful for killing his wife, and whether he was ready to be released.

"I have seen no evidence of rehabilitation," Hartigan told Little.

Little was sentenced to at least 36 years for the murder. His sentence was issued before the state's "truth in sentencing" law, which means he is not required to serve his full minimum term.

Little's daughter said she has filed a restraining order against her father. She said if he were released, she would not only fear for her own life, but for the life of her daughter.

Board members did not give a timeline for when Little would again be eligible for parole.

------

Information from: The Telegraph, http://www.nashuatelegraph.com

SEARCH THE ARCHIVES