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Justice admits threats to halfway house staff

John D. Justice, the former Kenmore honors student who killed his parents, brother and a neighbor 22 years ago, told state parole officials he staged a series of threats to halfway house caretakers last summer in a bid to get returned to state prison.

Justice was "highly agitated" and made no effort to deny threats to the staff of Grace House on Bailey Avenue when he was arrested by parole officials and driven to the Erie County Holding Center last Aug. 7, according to court documents obtained by The Buffalo News.

Justice, 39, told parole officers then that he was "sick of doing parole" and had spent days calculating how he could get back to prison "to complete his full sentence" and ultimately be free of government control. He also claimed on that drive to the jail that the threats to halfway house staff were "something he had calculated over the last couple of days."

According to the court papers, Justice called a state parole officer at about 3:30 that afternoon, claiming he was "depressed over his living situation at the Grace House" and "not getting any help from parole or" mental-health officials.

The officer urged Justice to go to Erie County Medical Center to be examined for the depression he said he was feeling. But Grace House officials at about 4 p.m. began calling authorities about Justice's repeated threats against staff members.

He was arrested two hours later.

Wednesday, State Supreme Court Justice Russell P. Buscaglia assigned Justice's parole violation attorney, Barry S. Dolgoff, to handle his new bid to be released from the Holding Center, which Justice outlined in a 10-page handwritten motion.

Justice killed his mother, Mary, and father, John W., both 37, and brother Mark, 13, during a Sept. 16, 1985, rampage. His failed vehicular suicide attempt after those killings caused the death of Wayne Haun, 22, whose vehicle was rear-ended by Justice's speeding car.

A jury in 1986 found him not guilty by reason of insanity in the deaths of his father and brother, while a 1992 jury found him guilty of manslaughter in the deaths of his mother and Haun. The dual verdicts made Justice a client of both the state penal and mental-health systems.

Justice, who was sent back to jail Aug. 7 after making the threats, wants to serve out the remaining eight years of his sentence in prison, free of parole constraints.

Justice's handwritten court papers complain about his dual status and being "subject to the whims of two powerful state agencies" that allegedly have conflicting agendas. He also complains that state mental-health officials have failed to provide meaningful treatment since he was given a conditional release from prison in September 2005.

But Justice, who earned a liberal arts degree from Syracuse University while in prison, said "the crux of the matter" involves the alleged violation of his "civil rights to due process under the law."

Dolgoff, the attorney, was not at Wednesday's court session but confirmed Thursday that he has spoken to Justice since then. He declined to comment further.

Buscaglia will conduct an April 25 hearing on Justice's claim that he is being illegally held in the Holding Center. State parole officials have scheduled a May 16 parole violation hearing, also in the Holding Center, across Delaware Avenue from Buscaglia's courtroom.

e-mail: mgryta@buffnews.com

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