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Man Who Killed Son, Reported Him Kidnapped, Gets Parole Date

Man Who Killed Son, Reported Him Kidnapped, Gets Parole Date

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LOGAN, Utah (AP) -- Steven Ray James, who killed his 3-month-old son in 1986 but claimed the child had been kidnapped, has been given a 2011 parole date.

The 52-year-old Logan man will be released on Oct. 25, 2011, said Mike Sibbett, president of the state Board of Pardons and Parole.

James will have served 25 years in jail and prison when he's released. James was convicted of capital homicide in 1989, but the Utah Supreme Court reversed the conviction. He pleaded guilty to manslaughter and evidence tampering in 1993, and was sentenced to consecutive terms of one to 15 years in prison, with credit for the years he spent in jail awaiting trial.

"These are all hard decisions," said Sibbett. "This one was particularly difficult because it involved such a tragic loss of a helpless child and violated the whole community's trust."

James told police the boy, Steven Roy, had been kidnapped from a grocery store parking lot and he publicly begged for his return.

The appeal and the intense searches for the boy drew national attention.

The child's body was found in the Bear River marshes three months later and James was charged. After denying the crime for seven years, James confessed that he accidentally killed the child by shaking him because he would not stop crying.

Sibbett said James showed "an appropriate amount of remorse" and had been a "model prisoner." He said the parole board felt that 25 years in prison was "about right, with a certain amount of parole supervision, especially in light of the $160,000 in restitution he has to pay."

James will be on parole for at least three years after his release and is expected to pay the restitution within that time. His parole may be extended if he cannot, Sibbett said.

The evidence-tampering charge stemmed from James' efforts to hide the body. He wrapped it in a mattress cover, weighted it with rocks and sank it in the Bear River. Duck hunters found the body.

(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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