Killer of ASU Professor Gets Paroled

NOVEMBER 4, 2005 - Posted at 10:51 a.m. CDT

LITTLE ROCK, AR - A state board has voted to grant parole to the killer of an Arkansas State University professor less than 18 months into the man's adult prison term.

Kirk Otis is 19 years old now.  He was 14 when he was arrested in the 2001 shooting death of 49-year-old Lieutenant Colonel Barney Smith in a killing at Smith's mother's home in Stuttgart.  The Post Prison Transfer Board had rejected a parole request last year on a 4-to-1 vote, but this week voted 4-to-2 to grant it.

Otis was convicted of manslaughter after initially facing a capital murder charge.  Otis was sentenced to the maximum ten years in prison after having spent three years in juvenile custody while awaiting his trial.

Last year, the board cited the seriousness of the crime and the use of a weapon as reasons for denying parole.

Smith's children said they were shocked by this week's decision.

A lawyer for Otis hopes an appeals court reverses the conviction and clears his client's name.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)