In 1977, 39 year-old O.D. Woolsey was convicted of first-degree murder in the shotgun slaying of police informant James Nance. He was sentenced to a life term with the possibility of parole.
He’s never confessed to the crime, which explains his 20 appearances in front of the Parole Board.
In 2009, the 71 year-old O.D. Woolsey, then in a prison hospice, was paroled. Just over a year later, he was sent back to prison for violating the terms of his release.
In 2011, at age 73, and once again in failing health, O.D. Woolsey doesn’t know if he’ll ever taste freedom again.
Woolsey periodically met with Chieftain reporter Patrick Malone and photographer Mike Sweeney for a series of interviews while out on parole in Pueblo during 2009-10. He met with them again in 2011 while incarcerated at Sterling Correctional Facility.
The interviews reveal a man embittered with a judicial system he feels wrongly convicted him. They reveal a man whose frustrations at being an easy mark for crack users and the homeless he thought he had befriended while on parole were compounded by the recollections of the respect he forged over the past of 20 years as a “convict” inside the walls of Cañon City’s Colorado Territorial Correctional Facility. The interviews reveal a lonely man who knows first hand “the sick emptiness of despair” and that he’s near his life’s end. And it becomes apparent that Woolsey’s struggles with alcohol is the component that binds these chapters of his life.
In the following video shot at Sterling Correctional Facility in 2011, Woolsey reveals both the combative and reflective facets to his persona as he talks about why he was violated back to prison and his own self-assesment of his life.
The following audio clips are excerpts from a series of six interviews with O.D. Woolsey by Malone and Sweeney between December 2009 and February 2011, where Woolsey discusses his 1977 murder trial, subsequent conviction, and circumstances that led to his parole; the difficulties faced as a parolee after serving 34 years in the Colorado prison system; and the factors that led to his parole being revoked and return to prison at age 72.
Note: The interviews contain strong language. Discretion is advised.