Sunday, May 23, 1999

Parole vote ahead for cop killer

Widow awaits a decision on Tuesday

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Cheryl Cole-Candelaresi will be waiting for an important phone call Tuesday from the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction.

        Tuesday is when she'll learn whether the Ohio Parole Board voted to free Roland Reaves, her husband's killer. In 1994, the board paroled Ricardo Woods, who along with Mr. Reaves was convicted of killing Cincinnati police Officer David Cole in 1974. Their original sentences were commuted to life in prison in the 1970s after Ohio's death penalty was struck down.

        “I will be waiting very anxiously for a phone call,” said Mrs. Cole-Candelaresi. “I told Keith (Fangman, president of the Fraternal Order of Police Queen City Lodge) if it's not good news — you don't even want to be around me that day.”

        Mrs. Cole-Candelaresi is planning on Tuesday being a normal day. In the morning, she'll go work in a cafeteria in a local school. By afternoon, she will return home. She'll be alone for a few hours.

        “But yet at the same time, until I hear one way or the other, it will probably be quite tense,” the 48-year-old said.

        Is she preparing for the unexpected?

        “Nothing the parole board would do would even surprise me after what they did with Woods,” said Mrs. Cole-Candelaresi, of Withamsville. “It would just be like the night that I got the news about David's death, probably if he were let out. It was the most horrible thing that could ever happen.”

        Officer Cole was shot July 16, 1974, while responding to a call about two men outside a convenience store on Florence Avenue. When Officer Cole pulled alongside the men and left his car, Mr. Reaves and Mr. Woods both fired shots that struck the officer.

        But Mrs. Cole-Candelaresi, who remarried, is buoyed by parole board guidelines imple mented last April that recommend that people who kill police officers serve longer sentences.

        “The guidelines suggest that Mr. Reaves not be paroled. And remember, when we paroled Mr. Woods in 1994, we did not have these guidelines,” said Margarette Ghee, chairwoman of the Ohio Parole Board.

        Mrs. Cole-Candelaresi's spirits are further boosted by the outpouring of support she has received from neighbors, old classmates, friends, police and family. Since March, more than 9,000 people have written, faxed and e-mailed letters to the state opposing parole.

        On Friday, Mrs. Cole-Candelaresi received even more support. Sheila Sweet, who attended Officer Cole's funeral but hasn't seen Mrs. Cole-Candelaresi since, dropped off about 9,000 petition signatures. “I just hope the parole board will listen to what we have to say,” said Ms. Sweet, of Bethel.

        If Mr. Reaves is denied parole, it would be only a temporary victory for Mrs. Cole-Candelaresi.

        In another five or ten years, she could again be forced to help spur a letter-writing campaign to keep Mr. Reaves in prison longer.

        “I'll do whatever it takes. Not that I like it, but I will do it,” she said. “His life was spared and that should not have been. This guy is getting second and third chances. Dave doesn't even get a second chance.”


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