April marks an anniversary that Katherine Lee could do without.
This year, Lee is marking the 20th time she has put together an effort to fight the parole of 69-year-old James Dumas. Dumas was convicted in the 1975 shooting death of Lee’s son, 15-year-old David Grinestaff.
Previously the Illinois Prison Review Board has opted for three-year periods between parole requests for Dumas. But last year, the board allowed Dumas a one-year stay before his case was heard again.
Lee said this year’s review board hearing for Dumas is on April 24. Dumas is a prisoner at Shawnee Correctional Center, located in rural Johnson County in southern Illinois.
Lee has fought the parole requests each year they have come up, testifying before the review board, circulating petitions locally and asking residents to send letters opposing the parole.
She plans on the same effort this year, saying she will have petitions in several locations throughout the city. Residents can send letters to the parole board members expressing their position regarding Dumas’ parole. Letters can be sent to the Illinois Prison Review Board, 319 E. Madison, Springfield, IL, 62701. Dumas’ prisoner number is C60416.
Dumas, then 32, along with another man, entered an east-side gas station where Grinestaff was working, took $25 and then shot the teenager on the way out.
Grinestaff, who worked part-time at the station, wasn’t even supposed to be working that night. He was filling in for another employee at Bob Kirts’ station. Grinestaff died in the operating room hours after the shooting.
At first, Dumas consistently denied shooting Grinestaff. That changed shortly before his 14th parole hearing. Dumas sent the board a letter claiming he accidentally shot the boy.
At the time of the shooting, Dumas had been on parole five months for another crime he was convicted of in Indiana. His criminal record includes car theft, burglary and heroin possession.
At the time of Dumas’ conviction, the state’s death penalty was considered unconstitutional. Otherwise, Dumas could have been sentenced to death.