May 23 • 11:10 AM

Dell's name turns up on list

Convicted bomber's 'life' sentence is subject to periodic parole board review

March 31, 2010
ST. CLAIR COUNTY — Judge Peter Deegan sent Larry Dell to prison to serve a "life sentence" following the convicted bomber's 1996 trial for severely injuring his estranged wife Charlene Dell when he packaged up an explosive device and sent it to her office in the mail. His 'earliest release date,' according to the Department of Corrections, is "life."

How is it then that Dell was allegedly granted a hearing before the state's parole board in November 2009?

Larry Dell was sentenced to life in prison for mailing a bomb to Charlene but he reportedly had a hearing before the state’s parole board last year.

Because he was sent to prison before the 1998 Truth in Sentencing Law took effect, Dell's name was added to the list of offenders being considered for early release as the state looks to cut corrections costs.

St. Clair County Prosecutor Mike Wendling said he's following the case and will fight vehemently to keep Dell locked up. Dell's conviction preceded Wendling taking office but it's his case to defend.

"The power to release prisoners is now in the hands of the governor and her parole board," Wendling said.

"The only person who should make that kind of decision is a judge."

So far, judges have turned down Dell's constant requests for a new trial.

After only 45 minutes of deliberation, a jury convicted Dell in 1996 on two counts—attempted murder, for which he was sentenced to 40-80 years, and sending an incendiary device, for which he was sentenced to life. The charges are to run concurrently and so far, he's served 14 years.

Dell's ex-wife and bombing victim, Charlene Castle, was not notified of his parole hearing, as required by state law.

According to state law, after 10 years have passed, a prisoner serving a life sentence "is subject to the jurisdiction of the parole board." The board is then required to review their file every five years thereafter.

In addition to the parole board, Dell's case has been reviewed by the Michigan Supreme Court and Court of Appeals several times in the last 13 years, but his requests for reconsideration continue to be denied. In May 2003, he sought to have an attorney or law student appointed to his case to help with "post-conviction discovery," among other petitions.

In December 2009, Dell again requested St. Clair County Judge Peter Deegan reconsider his case. In early January, Deegan once again denied his request.

As of press time, Dell was still incarcerated at the Newberry Correctional Facility in Newberry, MI.

Catherine Minolli is Managing Editor of the Tri-City Times. She began as a freelance writer with the Times in 1994. She enjoys the country life, including raising ducks and chickens.
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