When you look up David Hinchy on the database of New York State prison inmates, there’s a new date listed under “Earliest Release Date.”
It reads “04/2018,” as in April 2018.
Hinchy, who beat 8-year-old Jesse J. Powers to death in the city’s Riverside section in July 1987, has been denied parole for the third time.
Jesse’s aunt, Sandy Powers, is largely responsible.
She started a petition drive strongly opposing parole for Hinchy, now 51. He has spent the last 28 years in prison, serving the maximum sentence of 25 years to life for his conviction on a charge of second-degree murder.
That petition drew 2,889 signatures, creating a 2- to 3-inch file that Sandy Powers presented to a parole officer in March.
Powers, who would click on the state Department of Corrections and Community Supervision website several times a day, noticed Friday that Hinchy’s earliest release date had been changed from this month to April 2018.
“I feel happy,” she said Wednesday. “You think you would jump for joy at the decision, but all you think of is impending doom, because you know you have to go through this again starting in 18 months. You live it, and you breathe it; you’re so focused on it.
“Every two years, you have to relive the details of the crime. You just want it to rest. You want Jesse to rest in peace, but you can’t do that.”
In her petition, Powers, sister of Jesse’s late mother, Nancy, described the death of her nephew:
“David Hinchy choked and beat Jesse Powers, 8 years old, killed him in a train boxcar, and then threw him into the weeds for six days. This happened a day before Jesse was to testify against him for sexual crimes. … Jesse was beaten badly and his head kicked in. Hinchy participated in the search which took six days.”
Sandy Powers, who lives in an Eastern Seaboard state that she didn’t want to name, had a difficult time testifying before the Division of Parole. She said she called parole officials in February and was told that only the closest relatives – children, siblings and parents – could testify. She explained that she was the closest next of kin, because Jesse’s mother had died.
An hour later, parole officials called back to say she could testify, and Powers credits extensive media coverage and the petition drive for the quick change in position.
She and her brother David spent about an hour with one of the case’s three parole officers March 4, but only after about two dozen protesters assembled outside the Division of Parole office in downtown Buffalo.
First, she presented the thick file of petitions.
“When I handed the Parole Board officer the signatures, just because the file was so thick, the look on his face was priceless,” she recalled. “I don’t think he could believe so many people took an interest in this.”
At that meeting, she talked about the details of the killing, before beginning a prepared statement about the possible effects of Hinchy’s release.
“To think that an evil person like Hinchy would be put back into our society would be a grave injustice to the people of New York State and to Jesse,” she said. “I would fear for my life and the life of my family, and I would fear for the lives of Hinchy’s next victims.”
Jesse would have turned 37 in February, and after the tear-filled meeting in early March, Powers did what she often does on his birthday.
She visited his grave in Mount Olivet Cemetery in the Town of Tonawanda and placed one of his childhood favorites, a Hot Wheels car, on his tombstone.
And what did she tell him?
“Rest in peace,” she said.
“I hope Hinchy stays there forever. And I told Jesse we will continue to fight for him.”