The man who shot and killed Daniel Paquette in 1985 was granted parole in an emotional hearing Thursday.
Eric Windhurst pleaded guilty to second-degree murder of Paquette in 2005, after keeping the killing a secret for 20 years. He served 15 years in state prison for the crime, the minimum sentence for second-degree murder. Members of Paquette’s family begged the parole board to keep Windhurst in prison.
“If you think and this parole board thinks for a minute that the bill is paid and justice is served? Hell no,” said Paquette’s brother, Victor Paquette.
In the parole board hearing Wednesday, Windhurst said a schoolmate, Melanie Paquette, told him in 1985 that her stepfather, Daniel Paquette, had molested her as a child. Melanie Paquette told Windhurst a school counselor would have to report the abuse to the police. Paquette told Windhurst she thought her stepfather would kill her.
A week later, the two drove from Hopkinton to Paquette’s home in Hooksett, where Windhurst, then 17, shot and killed Paquette.
Windhurst stayed quiet for 20 years, and was only arrested after investigators re-interviewed Melanie Paquette in 2004.
Windhurst said he thinks of Paquette every day. The word “sorry” does not feel adequate, he said.
“My entire day is consumed with what I’ve done, what I’ve done to the Paquette family,” Windhurst said.
In prison, Windhurst said he took classes and held a job the entire time he has been in prison. Parole board member Joe Francis said Windhurst had gotten in trouble in prison just once in 15 years, and has not been violent since the 1985 shooting.
The hearing was held by video conference, and the parole board deliberated over text message for just over a minute before agreeing to grant Windhurst parole over the passionate objections of the Paquette family. Parole board members said they considered Windhurst’s disciplinary record in prison, the efforts he had made to improve himself and his plan to support himself after release.
“The job of the parole board is not to be a re-sentencing body,” said parole board member Donna Sytek.