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Indiana parole board rejects parole for deputy's killer

January 13, 2016

The sisters of a sheriff's deputy shot to death during a 1972 bank robbery sat through an emotional Indiana Parole Board hearing on Tuesday that ended with the panel again rejecting freedom for their brother's convicted killer.

The board voted 5-0 against granting Billy Ray Adams parole after hearing from him via a video feed from a state prison. Adams, 69, is serving a life sentence for his conviction in the slaying of Marion County Sheriff's Deputy Tom Settles.

Board member Charles Miller said the panel has rejected parole six times for Adams, who can seek request release from prison every five years.

Adams, who testified Tuesday about the robbery, Settles' shooting and his good behavior behind bars, said he was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder after serving in Vietnam at the time of the bank robbery.

Settles' two sisters, Linda Duncan and Marlene Giordano, grew emotional and frustrated during Adams' testimony. They shook their heads as Adams told the board that no one knows whether he or his late co-defendant fatally shot the officer on Feb. 24, 1972, after Settles responded to the robbery on Indianapolis' far east side.

"I don't know who shot Deputy Settles," Adams said.

Duncan said after the hearing that the bank's surveillance camera footage clearly showed Adams lean over a bank counter and shoot her wounded brother in the back of the head.

"It's just more of his lies, more of his lies. And he lies all the time. There are pictures of him shooting Tom," she said. "My brother has been dead since 1972, and it's really hard to relive this every five years."

William E. Adams, who was Billy Ray Adams' second cousin and was convicted and sentenced to life in prison in Settle's slaying, died in prison years ago. But Giordano said he had never sought parole.

"He said that was the one thing he could do for our family and that he would never make us go to a parole hearing from him, and he didn't," she said.

When the board heard last week from Settles' relatives and law enforcement officials who oppose his parole, their testimony indicated the bank manager had offered Adams the keys to the bank's back door to leave before police arrived. Instead, they said bank staff and customers testified at trial that they heard Adams say he wanted to remain inside the bank so that he could kill a police officer.

Adams told the board Tuesday that wasn't the case.

"He didn't offer the keys to you?" board chair Gwen Horth asked Adams.

"No. He had the key, but he couldn't get it unlocked. I'm not sure why," Adams replied.

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