Wisconsin chairman rescinds killer’s parole at Evers’ request

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — The Wisconsin Parole Commission’s chairman has decided to rescind parole for a man convicted of killing his wife.

Democratic Gov. Tony Evers had requested that Douglas Balsewicz’s parole be revoked after coming under criticism from Republicans looking to unseat him in November.

Balsewicz was set to be released as soon as Tuesday after serving less than 25 years of his 80-year sentence.

Victim Johanna Balsewicz’s family learned of the move and pressured Evers to block it.

Evers met Friday in the Capitol with members of the family of the victim, and shortly after that concluded he sent a letter to the parole commission’s chairman, John Tate, asking for “immediate and expeditious” reconsideration of her killer’s parole.

“I do not agree with this decision, and I have considerable concerns regarding whether Johanna’s family was afforded sufficient opportunity to voice their memories, perspectives, and concerns before this decision was made,” Evers wrote.

Johanna Balsewicz’s family emerged from the meeting in the governor’s office saying they were pleased with how it went and that Evers would be releasing a letter to Tate soon. They declined to discuss the contents of the letter before it was released. Some wore pink T-shirts with “#justiceforjojo” written across the fronts.

Balsewicz’s sister, Kim Cornils, said the family didn’t receive official notification that Tate had granted parole until Thursday. Evers welcomed their comments, she said, adding that the governor told them that his staff is “trying to figure out things on it.”

Cornils said she warned Evers that the November elections are coming.

“I said, more or less, you’re going to be held accountable on this,” she said. “Unless changes are made it’s not going to be good.”

The victim’s daughter, Nikkole Nelson, said he shouldn’t be paroled after serving less than half of his sentence.

“I think it’s very wrong what Tate did and decided and I hope he changes his mind after this,” she said.

Tate agreed to rescind Balsewicz’s parole early Friday evening.

Evers does not have the power to reverse the parole, but Tate, his appointee who chairs the parole commission, can do that.

Douglas Balsewicz, 54, was slated to be released from prison as soon as Tuesday, just days before the 25th anniversary of the crime. He was approved for release over the opposition of the family of the victim, Johanna Balsewicz.

Balsewicz was convicted in 1997 of stabbing his 23-year-old wife to death in her West Allis home and was sentenced to 80 years in prison in a plea deal. He stabbed her more than 40 times.

He was first eligible for parole in 2017 and was denied. The Wisconsin Parole Commission said in a statement that he came before the panel for a fifth review on April 14.

The commission said Tuesday that Balsewicz would “be carefully monitored by his assigned probation and parole agent” and ordered to have no contact with the victims or their family members.

Republican gubernatorial candidates Rebecca Kleefisch, Kevin Nicholson and Tim Michels have all criticized the parole. Nicholson sent Evers a letter calling on him to remove Tate from his position.