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Victim’s family unhappy about parole approval for 1988 killer of Lynchburg girl

Photo of Sarah Jamison, killed in Lynchburg in 1988
Photo of Sarah Jamison, killed in Lynchburg in 1988(Darrel Gallier)
Published: Dec. 8, 2020 at 10:25 AM EST
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LYNCHBURG, Va. (WDBJ7/Commonwealth’s Attorney Release) - The man convicted of killing a girl in Lynchburg in 1988 will be released on parole.

Gregory Joyner, now 48, was convicted by a jury in 1989 of the first-degree murder and attempted rape of Sarah Jamison, and sentenced to life plus ten years in prison. Jamison was 15 at the time; Joyner was 16.

Joyner admitted he strangled Jamison to death after, he claimed, he had consensual sex with her, according to the Lynchburg Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office. He then buried her body in a wooded area near her parents’ home. Her remains were found two weeks later.

Photo of Sarah Jamison, killed in Lynchburg in 1988
Photo of Sarah Jamison, killed in Lynchburg in 1988(Darrel Gallier)

Joyner was denied parole in 2017 and 2019 due to his “extensive criminal record, history of violence, and release at the time would diminish the serious nature of his offenses.” Parole was granted in November 2020 by new Virginia Parole Board membership.

Upon hearing of the parole decision, Dell Jamison, Sarah’s father, said, “When Joyner murdered Sarah it was for life. Why should he be released after only serving a part of his life? His sentence was for punishment, not rehabilitation; therefore he still has 30 or 40 years left on his sentence. His release is a big mistake. He is also a registered sex offender. If he was sentenced today, he would never get out of prison. Joyner has not expressed remorse to my knowledge. When he was photographed going to trial for the murder and rape of Sarah, he smiled and said ‘get my good side.’ He needs to stay in prison for the good of the community.”

Jamison’s sister Renee Knight, brother-in-law Jeff Knight, and niece Jessica Collins issued a joint statement: “The recent decision to grant parole to Greg Joyner has come as a heart-shattering blow to our family. When he took my sister Sarah from us, we thought that justice would be done when he was placed behind bars. It is with heartbreaking remorse that we hear he will soon be released from prison. We cannot put into words the amount of pain, suffering, and unending grief he has caused our family. Not a day goes past that we do not think of the amazing woman Sarah would have become. He had robbed us of a lifetime of memories and relationships we will now never get to have. To think, now, the man who stole all of this from us will be set free is a grave injustice to her memory.”

“After my sister was murdered, there was a major effect on our lives,” said Sarah’s other sister, Stacey Gallier. “I watched my parents crying, having to take prescriptions to try and face another day without their daughter. I would replay in my mind the last time I saw her, never being able to get that day back. Hearing about Gregory Joyner being let out of jail because he has been rehabilitated is like a punch in the stomach! Why does he deserve to live a normal life when he literally took my sister’s life? Just because she didn’t want to be with him the way he wanted!”

“How did the parole board come up with the decision that this rapist and murderer has been rehabilitated?” asked Darrel Gallier, Jamison’s brother-in-law. “When you have an individual that lures a 15-year-old girl from her home in the middle of the night, rapes her, strangles the life out of her, and buries her in a shallow grave in the woods beside her home (not to be found for almost 3 weeks) and when he was caught was found with different girls’ panties between the mattress in his bedroom, he is a danger to the young girls and should never get the chance to do this again to another young lady. He is a predator and I do not see any rehabilitation for that kind of behavior. I have a close relative that is in prison right now on marijuana charges and has already served 4 years out of 6 years and there is no talk about giving him early parole, but we can let murderers back out on the street. This is just nonsense.”

Mugshot of Gregory Joyner, granted parole after serving prison time for the 1988 murder of...
Mugshot of Gregory Joyner, granted parole after serving prison time for the 1988 murder of Sarah Jamison.(Virginia Department of Corrections)

“My heart goes out to Sarah’s family, as they have been forced into a lifetime of reliving the pain and trauma that Gregory Joyner caused them,” said Bethany Harrison, Commonwealth’s Attorney for the City of Lynchburg. “They experienced the rigors of trial and were granted some relief at his conviction and sentence to life in prison. Now the family must experience a new trauma. That is knowing that at 48 years old, Joyner will once again be free to walk the streets of the Commonwealth while they will never enjoy the company of their loved one again.

“A life sentence should have given this family the closure they deserved,” continued Harrison. “Instead, a wound has been reopened by the Virginia Parole Board. We will never know the reasons why the Virginia Parole Board granted Joyner parole as they are not required to give the public reasons for the release of a murderer. Given the multitude of problems victims of crime have suffered at the hands of this parole board this year, transparency and accountability are needed.”

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