Murderer waives parole hearing

Board reviews Michael Edward Pittman’s case and denies his release

Bonnie Belec
Published on February 13, 2014
Michael Edward Pittman at Provincial Court in January 2001.
— Telegram file photo

It’s been almost 12 years since a convicted murderer from St. John’s had his parole revoked, and it’s going to be a while longer before it is granted to him again.

Michael Edward Pittman was given full parole in 2001 after serving 10 years of a life sentence for the 1991 second-degree murder of his wife, Loretta Pittman.

The now 47-year-old, fuelled by alcohol, flew into a rage and beat and strangled her in their home on Hamilton Avenue in St. John’s. Loretta, 35, died two days later.

Pittman’s parole was revoked in 2002 after a night of drinking with friends. He assaulted his then girlfriend, armed himself with three knives and threatened to kill the others.

He was charged and convicted of three counts of assault with a weapon, possession of a prohibited weapon and seven counts of threats to cause death or harm. He was sentenced to an additional four years on each charge and was eligible to apply for parole again in 2004.

However, since then he has either been denied release or has waived his right to a hearing.

According to the parole board, an offender who is eligible for parole must have the case reviewed by a panel every two years, either through a formal hearing or a written assessment.

In the latest National Parole Board decision, filed Wednesday, everyone involved with Pittman’s case, including himself, is of the same opinion — he isn’t ready to be released back into the community.

“You have not provided written comments to the board, and waived your right to a hearing citing that you are not prepared for the community and should cascade to lower security prior to release.”

The decision says Pittman’s case management team told the board that while he has made some gains by participating in programs, at this time it does not support his release on full parole.

A psychological assessment places him on the “high end of the moderate range” to reoffend violently, but at a low risk for general recidivism.

“The board is of the opinion, that, should you reoffend, you could commit various types of violent offences. The board also notes your poor supervision history as you have reoffended by committing violent offences while on a previous conditional  release,” says the decision.

The board says alcohol intoxication and non-compliance with his psychiatric medication regime drastically escalate his risk for violence. Since 2009, Pittman has completed substance-abuse programs, the board says.

The parole board decision identifies several other risk factors such as impulsiveness, poor control of his emotions — especially anxiety and anger, a strong need for control, an inability to handle intimacy and poor relationship skills.

While the board said it recognized some efforts to address the factors, it said Pittman has continued to experience difficulties and to display inappropriate institutional behaviour even after he has completed programs.

The decision says in 2003, Pittman disclosed at a session that he continues to use soft drugs and is unwilling to stop the practice, and that in 2006, he was involved in an assault against another inmate.

Less than a year later he was charged with having unauthorized items, including a sharpened butter knife and a stereo.

Pittman’s behaviour led the board to conclude he has made limited progress during his incarceration and has yet to gain a substantial level of credibility.

“Overall, the board does not consider your full parole release as a viable option, something you agree with as well,” states the decision.

“For all those reasons, the board concludes that your release on day parole or on full parole would present an undue risk to society.”