ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — A convicted cop killer was granted parole even though he was sentenced to a life sentence for the crime.

Timothy Eling, 62, was notified this week that he will be released from prison in a few years.

Eling was sentenced to life in prison for the murder of Oakdale Police Officer Richard Walton, who was shot and killed in 1982. He was off-duty at the time.

Eling’s drug addiction led him to rob a St. Paul hospital pharmacy where Walton, a father of five, was moonlighting off-duty as a security guard.

On Thursday, Minnesota’s Commissioner of Corrections, Tom Roy, faced tough questions from lawmakers about why he paroled Eling. The hearing was called by the Public Safety and Crime Prevention Policy and Finance Committee because they wanted an explanation.

If Eling completes the terms of his release, he will be free Dec. 15, 2015. He is currently serving four additional years for smuggling drugs into prison 15 years ago.

Roy said Eling has earned his release with good behavior. He said Eling has changed his life.

“We have lived with these individuals every day, 365 days a year, day and night, multiple times during the day, in treatment, in school, in their interactions. But in the case of Mr. Eling especially, they have noted that as a sincere, heartfelt and soulful change,” Roy said.

Roy said he was following guidelines from state statues in determining Eling’s release.

Eling was sentenced before 1989, and during that time people who were sentenced to life for murder could possibly be paroled. After 1989, the law changed and judges could sentence people to life without parole.

The law was also changed in 1993 to mandate life without parole for killing a police officer.

Roy told lawmakers there are 150 other inmates who have life sentences who were sentenced before 1989, so this situation could come up again.

The committee chairman, Rep. Tony Cornish, R-Good Thunder, disagreed, telling Roy he believes corrections commissioners have enough discretion under the old law to deny parole to the worst offenders. He asked whether there was any crime so severe that Roy would refuse to parole the person who committed it. Roy replied that he doesn’t have the authority to impose more severe sentences than those handed down by the courts.

Much of the discussion centered on the themes of forgiveness and redemption. Former Gov. Al Quie, who has been active in prison ministries, testified what a difference it made when he met with a prisoner who had committed a heinous crime against one of Quie’s relatives, and told him he forgave him.

“Folks, there’s something important in redemption. I ask you not to take that hope away from people who are in prison,” Quie told the committee.

Rep. Glenn Gruenhagen, R-Glencoe, who’s also been active in prison ministries, told Quie he agrees about the value of forgiveness and redemption, but that offenders must still face the full consequences of what they’ve done. He said the case shows the need to restore capital punishment in Minnesota.

(TM and © Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

Comments (31)
  1. Rags says:

    “Smuggling drugs into prison” is good behavior? Just who do we have making decisions in our corrections department?

    1. em0886-14 says:

      Did you read the rest of that comment, it was fifteen years ago!! A lot of change can happen in that amount of time especially with treatment and counseling.

  2. Troy says:

    This is a sad day for the criminal justice system, but more importantly for the family of Officer Richard Walton. Anyone who slays a public official should spend the remainder of their life in prison, no questions asked. This is nauseating and unacceptable. I hope that Mr. Roy doesn’t eat his words when this murderer harms someone else; however, it wouldn’t surprise me if it happens. If the parole board had a conscience, this public enemy wouldn’t have been released. It’s a sad day for Minnesota.

  3. Payment in full? says:

    The cop who was shot doesn’t get any options. He’s dead. This guy should get a second chance? Gimme a break. In many other states he would be dust already. Great that he’s changed his life. Let him help others in prison and keep him there. Because someone changes is that condition for release? C’mon.

    1. Real Talk says:

      I get your point.

      But 30 years is a long time for most crimes…including murder.

      Keeping him in there only cost you and me more every day. Sure, you can choose to hold onto your vengence…but i doubt that’s what Richard Walton would have wanted. I honestly believe Richard would be open to letting him out after 30 years if he believed he had changed.

      1. TL says:

        Ya, 30 years is a long time. however a dead guy who didnt get to choose whether to live or die is a pretty permanent sentence.

        Cant do the time, dont do the crime…I heard that once or twice before.

        By your pont, we should just release the other hunderds of thousands locked up that are taxing our tax money.

        One isnt that much difference.

      2. Judge says:

        It may cost money keeping him in jail but how do you think a 70 year old con is going to support himself on the outside. He deserves prison food, prison hospital care, and prison housing the rest of his life.

    2. anti bachmann says:

      he should of been dust a long time ago why should we waste our tax money keeping these idiots alive in prison

  4. Suz says:

    this is why Minnesota needs a death penelty. This guy should have been put down years ago. Problem solved. And for sure that kind of change in his life will make sure he does not do any more crimes… get it?

  5. LooksLike says:

    Is this guy a relitive of Jesse Ventura?

  6. Beth says:

    I agree that trying to smuggle drugs into jail, even 15 years ago, does NOT constitute good behavior. Come on DOC! This is ridiculous.

    1. Get educated says:

      Do you want your tax money being spent on housing him, feeding him, getting him the best health care?? NO! If he is no longer a harm to the public then the DOC did their job. DOC means department of correction. Correction is correcting or fixing someones behavior.

      1. anti bachmann says:

        let him live with you then

  7. Little Tin God says:

    How much did the parole board get paid to release this guy? It doesn’t matter to me if he was a cop killer, he was a KILLER!! As far as I’m concerned, NO killer should be released EVER, I don’t care how much “good behavior” s(he) has demonstrated. The individual killed got a no-life term so why should the killer be allowed to have a life?

  8. Jay says:

    My two cents isnt worth much I know. In this isntance I agree with the warden. Dont get me wrong I totally feel for the officers family and the loss they suffered. Also, I understand law enforcements concerns. The problem I have, is that this officer was OFF duty. Had he been on duty Id have said lock the door forever. Each of us chooses a profession, and in doing so, we accept the consequences of that position. The minute the officer clocked off the job, he became a citizzen just like you and I. I HOPE this warden is corect in his evaluation of the prisioner, and that if given the chance at freedom Eling makes an effort at being a good citizen and stays clean.

    1. TL says:

      A cop doesnt stop being a cop even after he’s clocked out for the day…..still has the power and duty to uphold the law on or off duty no matter where he/she is.

      If you were being assaulted and an “off duty” copper happens to walk by and you ask for help but he tells you he’s “just “clocked out” sorry, cant help now but…I’ll pick your carcase up when I clock back in buddy in 12 hours, k?…good luck.”

      I’d be willing to bet you’d have something to say about that, huh?

    2. Brittany says:

      I agree Jay. 30 yrs is a very long time. He was a citizen when he was killed. The killer probably didn’t target him because he was a cop. and People do change weather they are a convict or a citizen. no i don’t agree smuggling drugs n was good behavior but that was over 15 years ago. Maybe he can get out and help with therapy for criminals and show them that the crime life is not worth it.

  9. Voted for Jessie says:

    Wow……thought that was Jessie Ventura when I first seen the photo, they could be twins!

  10. j speedbag 64 says:

    what,nobody thought 30 years could possibly go by,i agree he should die in prison but the judge had no choice with the laws that existed in the 80s,the parole board is crazy to turn this mad man loose……..j

    1. Get educated says:

      Then you can gladly call the DOC and tell them you will pay for all his cost. Keeping him in prison is expensive.

  11. Kevin says:

    Welcome to liberal Minnesota….may I take your order please? Gosh I hope this Cop killing POS lives a great life and is able to enjoy his last days……

    1. Get educated says:

      You need to look up the definition of liberal. Please and thanks 😀

      1. Kevin says:

        Liberal….one who is casturated……one who lives at Mom’s house… who want those who made good choices to pay for those who made poor choices…

  12. saberfan says:

    If we kill him w/ the death penalty how does that make the people that kill him any better then him?

  13. Billy says:

    I am glad he is being set free. He did his time and deserves to be set free.


    How disturbing …I can’t believe people are ok with the fact that this murderer is getting set free.
    I don’t care if he killed a police officer on or off duty, I don’t care if he killed his own mom, I don’t care if he killed some random guy at the bar… or anyone else for that matter , He took a life and had no right to do it . Why should he be set free to live a life that he doesn’t deserve? Just because they deemed his as having good behavior now it doesn’t change the fact that his past behaviors where dysfunctional, dangerous, and down right insane . Why should he be let out to live amongst people who obey the laws that are placed before them? Why is it people feel the need to cry for redemption, fair treatment and forgiveness when they chose to take a life of someone who had no opportunity to live a full life? I hope this guy gets whats coming to him!

  15. Mn land of fruits and nuts says:

    Sounds like former Gov Al Quie has lost his marbles.

  16. Dave Orr says:

    Believe me or not, My neighbor works at MCF – Stillwater and says ” Trust me, cancer is gonna carry out the rest of the sentence “.

  17. angus says:

    The CCO censorship must be working overtime. I have been advised that an automated system censors comments even when free of obscene words. I submitted an entry, no obscene words or name calling, but was censored. Of course it was a liberal point of view so that generally means it gets axed by CCO.
    Note: I am a liberal, been on my own since 17, put myself through college, did 4 years military, worked hard, wife and 2 children, and remember what it was like to be poor. People did help me and it is my turn to help others. In my work I met many people who had tough times and not because of bad choices (conservatives love to blame other peoples difficulties on bad choices) but due to things beyond their control, i.e. lost of job, accidents, severe illness in the family, victim of crimes, etc. It is religious, not just Christian, to help others.

    Lets see if this gets printed

    1. jesus saves says:

      WCCO censoring libs? Thank you WCCO for saving us from angus strange ramblings.

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