Teenager#039;s murderer denied parole

Published 12:00 am Saturday, February 25, 2006

In the end, it was up to the Alabama Board of Pardons and Paroles whether Joseph &#8220Junior” Gause would be able to live as a free man again after pleading guilty to the brutal murder of Michael Mora in 1998.

But after reviewing the details of his crime and hearing emotional testimony from Mora's family and friends, they decided it was best to leave Gause in prison.

&#8220They gave him the maximum of five years before he can come to another hearing,” said Mora's father Mike, who, along with his wife Terry spoke to the Parole Board about their objections to Gause being freed. &#8220I told (the Board) my son was a very good person who was killed for basically nothing and that we were there to see that justice was done.”

Gause was sentenced to 20 years in prison after pleading guilty to helping murder Michael Mora and disposing of his body. Authorities say Mora was robbed and shot three times in the head as he sat in his car. After a weeklong search, his burned body was found in a ravine in Lowndes County. Police arrested a second suspect in the case, but he committed suicide in the Butler County Jail shortly after his arrest.

Mike Mora said corrections officials told him there was a push to relieve overcrowding in jails by the state, which worried them going in to the hearing.

&#8220We had a lot of press there and someone from the governor's office showed up out of the blue,” he said. &#8220So I'm sure there was a little pressure (on the Board) to keep him in jail.”

Michael Mora's sister, Melanie Hyde, said Gause's cousin and sister appealed to the Board for his release.

&#8220They said they felt like he was reformed and I don't agree with that,” she said. &#8220There's no way in that short amount of time, based on the crime he did, that he can be reformed.”

Gause's family members told the Board if released Gause would relocate to New York, something Butler County Sheriff Diane Harris told the Board wouldn't be the case.

&#8220I told them to consider leaving him in the penitentiary, because even though he said he would go to New York, I've been in law enforcement 31 years and people usually come back to where the crime originated from,” she said.

Gause's family could not be reached for comment.

Gause continues to be incarcerated at the J.O. Davis Correctional Facility in Atmore. His next parole hearing will be in 2011.