Warner’s murderer denied reduced sentence

The murderer of Pearl Warner was denied a sentence reduction by the South Dakota Board of Pardons and Paroles at a commutation hearing Thursday in Sioux Falls.
Larry Gene Faller, 59, had requested a commutation last spring after the Board agreed to hear his case. Faller elected to postpone the hearing in July, August and September, when only eight members of the nine person board were in attendance.
Sanborn County State’s Attorney Jeff Larson and Sheriff Tom Fridley both spoke at the July hearing, in objection of the commutation, on behalf of the general consensus of Woonsocket residents.
Members of the Warner’s family also spoke strongly against a commutation, stating there were some people who had now spoken out against Faller, saying he had threatened them back then and they still did not feel safe if he were to be released. They asked to be kept anonymous for fear of retaliation by Faller.
Faller is serving a life sentence for the 1972 murder of Pearl Warner, plus a concurrent 10 years for committing assault with intent to kill on Volney T. Warner, Pearl’s husband.
On the night of the shooting, Jan. 15, 1972, a school bus driver had allegedly denied Faller a ride to a basketball game because he wasn’t a student. Angered, Faller began wandering the streets of Woonsocket with a stolen .22 and had an “urge to kill someone,” as stated in a July 1972 psych evaluation.
Faller found a home with their blinds open about a block from the school. He stood outside the elderly Warner’s home for some time as the couple watched television.
Documents from 1972 state that when Volney got up to adjust the television, Faller shot him through the living room window. As Volney’s wife, Pearl, came to her husband’s aid, he shot her because he stated, he was afraid she would call the police.
Pearl died two months later on March 11, 1972 from complications resulting from her injuries.
Faller was found guilty in Davison County Court on May 24, 1973. He believes that if the death penalty had been an option in 1973, he would have received it and Faller stated at his hearing that he would have also deserved it.
The U.S. Supreme Court had ruled the death penalty unconstitutional in 1972 until another decision overturned that ruling in 1976.
Faller implored the board to look at his record while in prison, as he has been almost continually employed since being locked up. Saying that he has become a Christian and is sure he could be a “great service to the community.”
The 1972 psych evaluation stated that Faller had a severe sociopathic disorder.
The Board unanimously denied Faller’s request after a short deliberation Thursday. One board member stated that despite Faller being a “model inmate,” that given the severity of the crime, he did not believe the governor would support a commutation anyway.
Faller can apply again in one year, but to gain a hearing, at least two parole board members must recommend a hearing. This is the second time Faller has appealed to the board, trying it once in 1991.

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