Convicted murderer asks board to reduce sentenceLarry Faller committed ’73 Woonsocket killing; authorities oppose his release.
By: Chris Mueller, The Daily Republic
SIOUX FALLS — Sanborn County authorities spoke out Thursday against a convicted murderer’s request for a reduced sentence. Larry Gene Faller, 59, was sentenced to life in prison in 1973 for the murder of Woonsocket resident Pearl Warner and an additional 10 years for committing assault with intent to kill against Volney T. Warner, Pearl Warner’s husband.
Faller was scheduled to have a hearing Thursday morning before the state Board of Pardons and Paroles at the South Dakota State Penitentiary in Sioux Falls, but because one of the nine board members was absent, Faller asked to have the hearing delayed until next month.
At the hearing, the board was supposed to vote on Faller’s application to have his life sentence commuted, which if granted would eventually give him the opportunity to seek release from prison on parole. Though the hearing was rescheduled, Sanborn County State’s Attorney Jeff Larson and Sanborn County Sheriff Tom Fridley were still allowed to speak to the board.
“While it seems a bit cliché to say, it was one of those things that nobody expected to happen in a small town,” Larson said of Faller’s crime.
Court documents from Faller’s trial recount the events of Jan. 15, 1972, the night Faller shot both Volney T. Warner and Pearl Warner through a window of their Woonsocket home.
Pearl Warner was not killed the night of the shooting, but died almost two months later at Hennepin County Hospital in Minneapolis on March 11, 1972.
“The incident that took place was just a random killing,” Larson told the board.
A psychological evaluation of Faller written in July 1972 is included among the court documents relating to his trial. On the night of the shooting, Faller “went walking up the street and had the urge to kill someone — just anyone,” the evaluation says.
Faller, who was 19 at the time, was found competent to stand trial, but the evaluation noted he had a severe sociopathic personality. He was found guilty of both charges on May 24, 1973. He was sentenced to life in prison for murder and 10 years in prison for assault with intent to kill on May 29, 1973.
Sheriff Fridley said when residents in Sanborn County heard of Faller’s request to have his sentence commuted it “shook their foundation as to safety and comfort.”
“They don’t feel as safe as they used to,” Fridley said.
Even if the board recommended Faller receive a commutation, he would still have several steps before he could be released on parole.
First, the governor would have to approve a commutation of Faller’s sentence. If that occurred, then Faller’s sentence would be recalculated, and a date for his parole eligibility would be determined.
If Faller became eligible for parole, he would be subject to a discretionary parole board hearing. During that hearing, the board would decide if Faller has been rehabilitated and if he is a candidate for parole.
Larson said residents in and around Woonsocket are against Faller ever having the opportunity for parole.
“Life in prison without parole is a high price to pay, but it’s not too high,” Larson said. “We think the sentence is appropriate and that the commutation should not be recommended to the governor.”