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Justice doesn't want prison time Attorney disputes officers' claims

John D. Justice, the Kenmore man who killed his family more than 20 years ago, doesn't want to go back to prison despite state parole officers' statements that he favored prison over parole, his latest court-assigned attorney said Wednesday.

Justice is under the supervision of both the Parole Division and the state Office of Mental Health, and his ultimate fate is in "uncharted waters" legally, said attorney Barry S. Dolgoff.

State parole officials arrested and rejailed Justice last summer for allegedly threatening staff at the halfway house where he was staying while on parole. Justice has objected to his treatment from both state agencies and complained about a lack of meaningful treatment from mental-health workers.

Parole officers stated that Justice told them he staged the halfway house threats in a bid to get sent back to state prison to complete his manslaughter term.

"He doesn't want to go back to" prison, Dolgoff said.

Dolgoff said the parole officers may have misread "snippets" of Justice's telephone complaints to a parole officer.

"I don't know, I wasn't there," Dolgoff said of the conversation.

The Buffalo News incorrectly reported April 11 that Justice's court motion sought return to prison in order to avoid parole.

Justice believes the state Office of Mental Health and the state Parole Division have conflicting agendas -- with one trying to send him back to prison, while the other is supposed to be treating him -- and that they're violating his due process rights, Dolgoff added.

Dolgoff will represent Justice during his bid Wednesday to get released from the Erie County Holding Center as well as his May 16 state parole violation hearing.

Justice's situation is uncharted territory in state civil and criminal law, Dolgoff said, adding there are no answers about how his combined prison and mental treatment should be handled.

In 2005, Justice was granted a conditional release from prison. The conditions were that he go to the Buffalo halfway house, that he continue getting mental treatment and behave lawfully.

Last August, Justice called a state parole officer he had been dealing with and claimed to be "depressed over his living situation at the Grace House" and that he was "not getting any help from parole" or mental-health officials.

While that officer reportedly urged Justice to get treatment for depression, Grace House officials called the Parole Division, saying Justice made repeated threats against staff members. He was arrested and rejailed Aug. 7 and has been there ever since.

Justice killed his mother, Mary, and father, John W., both 37, and brother, Mark, 13, in their Kenmore home. He then killed Wayne Haun, 22, in an auto crash.

In separate trials, he was convicted of killing his mother and brother but found not guilty by reason of insanity in the deaths of his father and Haun, thus subjecting him to both penal and mental-health control.

Justice still has more than eight years to serve on his 1992 manslaughter conviction.

e-mail: mgryta@buffnews.com

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