Florala murderer denied parole, again

Published 12:03 am Wednesday, July 11, 2012

There were tears of joy shed as news came that the parole of convicted murderer Robert Anthony “Tony” Rawls was denied Tuesday.

Rawls, now 45, will continue to serve a 29-year prison sentence after he was found guilty of kidnapping and capital murder in the Feb. 2, 1994, shooting death of his wife, Juanita “Nita” Carroll Rawls. He was eligible for the death penalty, but pled in September 1995, after jury selections were finished.

Because of health reasons, neither Mrs. Rawls’ sister, Dora Townsend, nor mother, Eloise Carroll, were able to attend the proceedings; however, both worked diligently to protest Rawls’ release. Townsend said a cousin represented her family at the hearing.

“When I called Mom to tell her (about the hearing), she just cried and said, ‘Are you sure? Are you really sure? Thank you, God. Thank you, God,’” Townsend said via telephone Tuesday.

Townsend credited the “overwhelming” number of letters sent by local residents protesting Rawls’ release for the board’s decision.

“We were told that we did a good job with the letters and petitions because that is one of the key points the board considers when making their decision,” she said.

“I can’t tell you how good it feels to know he’s going to stay where he belongs,” she said. “I feel relieved, and I feel confident in the Alabama legal system.”

Rawls appeared before the state parole board, as did representatives from the attorney general’s office and VOCAL, an organization dedicated to working with victims of crime and leniency – each of whom spoke out against granting Rawls’ parole.

Rawls is currently incarcerated in the Bullock Correctional Facility in Union Springs.

He is set to be released Jan. 29, 2023, according to Department of Corrections records.