Middleborough family outraged that teen killer is paroled

MIDDLEBOROUGH, Mass. — This week, the Massachusetts Parole Board agreed to release convicted teen killer Jeffrey Roberio to long term care, a move that is angering the family of his 79-year-old victim.

“The Parole Board should be ashamed of themselves,” Jonathan Villaire, grandson of victim Lewis Jennings told me.

Jeffrey Roberio was three months shy of his eighteenth birthday in 1986, when he and another man broke into Lewis Jennings' trailer in Middleborough, looking for cash.

Instead, Lewis Jennings was found in his home, beaten and strangled.

Jeffrey Roberio was convicted and sentenced to life no parole.

But a 2013 SJC decision banning life no parole for teen killers, gave Roberio a chance.

And this week, in a 6-1 decision, the State Parole Board granted Roberio parole into a long term care facility.

In its decision, the Parole Board cited Roberio’s involvement in treatment programs behind bars.

And it recognized evidence that showed Roberio’s 17-year-old brain functioned at a third grade level at the time of the Jennings murder.

The Roberio parole left Plymouth County District Attorney Tim Cruz stunned.

“Lots of people, unfortunately, had backgrounds and situations that are terrible, but they don’t all turn into murderers. Jeffrey Roberio did,” Cruz told me.

DA Cruz testified against Roberio at both of his parole hearings.

He is not convinced that Roberio is rehabilitated.

“I don’t have a crystal ball. Nobody can tell me what’s going to happen,” Cruz told me. “All I can look at is what I got. And what I’ve got is an individual who murdered a helpless old man.”

Jonathan Villaire added, “He’s not reformed. He put forth rehearsed scripted platitudes about how he is sorry, and how he has participated in programs when he was incarcerated. There’s no doubt in my mind that he hasn’t changed.”

Jeffrey Roberio is released to a long term residential care facility with conditions.

It is not clear when he will be returned to the streets.

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