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Murderer rushed to hospital on day of parole hearing

New Hampshire Union Leader

January 31. 2013 8:35PM


CONCORD - A parole hearing for Robert Breest, a convicted murderer, was canceled Thursday morning after he was taken to a Boston hospital for treatment of an undisclosed medical condition.

Breest, 74, formerly of Hooksett, has spent about 41 years behind bars for the brutal murder of 18-year-old Susan Randall of Manchester, on Feb. 28, 1971. Her body was found in the Merrimack River in Concord, after Breest tossed it off a bridge.

Breest has been detained at the Massachusetts Correctional Institute-Shirley since 1995.

In 1973, he was sentenced to 40 years to life for first-degree murder. At the time, there was no sentence of life without parole for that murder charge, according to state corrections spokesman Jeffrey Lyons. Breest reached his minimum sentence years ago, and in 1996 was granted parole. He was never freed because he did not meet conditions set for his release, which included he admit he killed Randall and complete a sexual offender program.

Sally Hembree and Paula Hembree, both of Manchester, and Randall's sister and niece, respectively, arrived promptly at the prison to testify at the parole hearing. Breest had notified officials earlier that he was not going to attend, but the two women planned to be there anyway to let the board members know they believed he should never be released.

"I didn't sleep all night," said Sally Hembree who feared the State Adult Parole Board would grant Breest parole, just as it did in 1996.

Prison is where Breest belongs, she said, although she thinks Breest should have been put to death years ago.

Instead of admitting what he did, Sally Hembree said Breest has chosen to continually go to court, filing appeals and over the past few years winning approval for DNA testing of blood found under Randall's fingernails. DNA testing didn't exist in the 1970s, and Breest maintained the test results would exonerate him.

That didn't happen. Two DNA tests were done, results of which were inconclusive, his lawyer said previously, while prosecutors said the DNA found was consistent with Breest's. Sally Hembree said the second DNA test was 99 percent conclusive for Breest. Breest, however, still has not given up and is asking the court to approve a third DNA test.

Sally Hembree is angry that the Innocence Project of Massachusetts continues to seek and pay for the DNA testing.

"It's given us 40 years of sorrow," said Sally Hembree of the continuous legal proceedings. "My mother is gone. My father is gone. My husband, who ID'd the body, is gone. This is what we have left."

Paula Hembree asked Andrea Goldberg, executive assistant to the State Adult Parole Board, to ensure if Breest is freed that a condition be imposed that he not contact any of Randall's family members.

Goldberg said a man who is a convicted murderer and sexual offender when paroled has to meet stringent conditions and would be under intensive supervised release.

The Hembrees believe that when Breest is paroled it will be to Shirley, Mass., where his wife resides.

Goldberg said the Bay State would have to agree to accept Breest ,who would then have to comply with conditions,more stringent than in New Hampshire for sexual offenders.

A new parole hearing date has not been scheduled.

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