View Full Version : Savannah coonvict faces possible parole reconsideration in grisly 1982 rape, nearly decapitation WF

02-17-2016, 06:55 AM

Savannah convict faces possible parole reconsideration in grisly 1982 rape, murder
Posted: February 16, 2016 - 11:02pm | Updated: February 17, 2016 - 9:14am


Fourteen-year-old Sheryl West returned home from school on Aug. 31, 1982, to find her mother’s nearly decapitated, lifeless body on her bedroom floor.

Janice Terrell West, 35-year-old mother of two, had been raped, sodomized and murdered in her Cottonvale Road home in what veteran prosecutor Greg McConnell calls “one of the most gruesome, horrible murders that has ever occurred in Chatham County.”

“It was a death penalty case,” he said.

Ora Lee Bolden, then 27, and an inmate bus driver for a Coastal Correctional Institution work detail cleaning ditches on Cottonvale Road, was indicted for murder, rape and aggravated sodomy.

Investigators said Bolden slipped away from the work detail near a mobile home community and later returned, intoxicated and with a large amount of blood on his clothing and with the victim’s wristwatch.

Then-District Attorney Spencer Lawton Jr. sought the death penalty.

On Feb. 16, 1984, Bolden pleaded guilty as part of a negotiated plea in Chatham County Superior Court and was sentenced to three consecutive life prison terms plus 20 years on an unrelated burglary.

Lawton said the result was “in the best interest of all concerned” because in part, it spared West’s daughter, the state’s key witness, from having to appear in court to testify and relive the events.

“We have to make the best choices we can from among imperfect alternatives,” Lawton said.

He said the sentence meted out the maximum punishment allowed under Georgia law, short of the death penalty, while at the same time effectively eliminating the risk of appeal.

The victim’s family supported the decision.

Possible parole reconsideration reaction

Now the victim’s daughter, Sheryl Fortson, and McConnell, Chatham County’s chief assistant district attorney, are reacting to reports the state Board of Pardons and Paroles is due to consider Bolden for parole later this month.

McConnell, a frequent critic of the parole board’s handling of the release of violent offenders, informed the board by email on Feb. 10 that the victim’s daughter has been notified of the pending parole consideration “and she has asked that we support her plea to deny parole for him.”


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Sheryl West Fortson

February 15 at 9:59am

The newspaper is going to run my mothers story on line this afternoon and in tomorrow's paper in hopes of keeping her killer, Ora Lee Bolden, behind bars where he should stay for the rest of his life.
Why is the parole board releasing violent offenders?