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MDOC: ‘Strickland will not be considered for Earned Release Supervision’

The family of Ole Miss students John and Sarah Wheat, who were killed in 2012 by a man driving under the influence of drugs, have learned the man responsible for their deaths is no longer being considered for early release.

Last week, William and Frances Wheat were notified that the man who killed their son and daughter, John Howard Strickland Jr., was being considered for early release under the state’s Earned Release Supervision program.

On Tuesday, the EAGLE ran a story where the family asked the community to write letters and emails to the Mississippi Department of Corrections’ Victim Services in protest of Strickland being considered for early release.

Less than 24 hours later, the Wheat’s were told Strickland’s early release was denied by the Executive Board.

Those who wrote emails received the following response Wednesday:

“Offender Strickland will not be considered for Earned Release Supervision at this time. Thank you for your submitted concerns.”

Frances Wheat said she is grateful to all those who wrote letters and sent emails and that the person who contacted her from MDOC commented on the number of letters MDOC has received on their family’s behalf.

“I want to encourage folks to continue to write so they remain in (Strickland’s) file,” she said Wednesday night.

Strickland, who was also enrolled at the University of Mississippi at the time of the crash, was sentenced in September 2013 by Circuit Court Judge Andrew Howorth to 25 years in prison, with 13 years suspended and 12 to serve. His sentence also included substance abuse rehabilitation, restitution for funeral and medical costs and five years probation.

At the time of the crash, Strickland was under the influence of marijuana, prescription medication and canned air propellant difluoroethane when he crossed a median on Highway 6 and slammed into John and Sarah Wheat’s vehicle on Oct. 30, 2012. The siblings were coming home from Tupelo after attending Race for the Cure. Strickland had been convicted of DUI a year prior to the fatal wreck; however, Strickland’s attorneys have filed an appeal in that case.

According to the MDOC website, Strickland has a tentative release date of July 2020.