COLUMBIA -- The state parole board refused Wednesday to release convicted cop killer Rich- ard Workman.
For the 14th time, the board rejected parole for Workman, the 56-year-old who gunned down Rock Hill Police officer Steve Jordan in the pre-dawn hours of New Year's Eve 1975, when the 22-year-old rookie stopped to help him after his vehicle had apparently broken down.
Workman, then 24, shot Jordan 14 times, gouged his eyes out and stuffed one of the eyeballs inside his jacket pocket. He was sentenced to die.
But Workman escaped the death penalty 10 months later when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled mandatory death-penalty laws unconstitutional. His sentence was commuted to life in prison.
Workman has been eligible for parole since 1984, said Pete O'Boyle, a spokesman for the S.C. Department of Probation, Parole and Pardon Services. Workman's case now comes before the parole board every two years.
On Wednesday morning, Jordan's friends and family made their biennial trip to Columbia to tell the board why Workman should remain in prison. Fifteen people showed up, bringing with them petitions signed by 2,664 individuals opposed to Workman's release.
"I told them (the parole board) that the petitions spoke volumes about how our citizens of Rock Hill and York County feel about this case," Rock Hill Police Lt. Jerry Waldrop said. "Although it has been 32 years, we still feel that he got the death penalty and that justice was not served. And he needs to serve his entire life in prison."
One of Jordan's colleagues and a friend, Waldrop was scheduled to be in the patrol car instead of Jordan on the night he was murdered. But one officer was out, so Waldrop took the role of walking the downtown beat, while Jordan drove the patrol car.
"It's always a good feeling when we can come away from there knowing that he'll spend two more years in prison," Waldrop said. "At least that."
Waldrop, however, wasn't the only person to speak to the parole board. For the first time, Jordan's widow, Sue Jordan Phillips, also had a message.
"I wanted them (the parole board) to know that he took their Paw-Paw from them," she said, referring to Steve Jordan's grandchildren, ages 8 and 12, who also were there.
Although she was relieved with the board's decision, she knows the battle isn't over.
"We just have to keep fighting," she said. "We're going to fight till he's in there till death."