Virginia Delegate Rob Bell, pictured here with a constituent, is dredging up an old controversy of VP candidate Tim Kaine's
Virginia Delegate Rob Bell, pictured here with a constituent, is dredging up an old controversy of VP candidate Tim Kaine's | Waldo Jaquith, flickr, the commons

Republicans press Kaine for answers on convicted murderer Jens Soering

Virginia Republicans are still demanding answers from Democratic vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine over a deal he struck in 2010, with the lawyers for convicted double murderer Jens Soering that would have transferred Soering from his Virginia jail cell into the custody of German authorities.

Governor Bob McDonnell, Kaine's successor, rescinded the transfer request. Soering remains in prison at the Buckingham Correctional Facility in Dillwyn, Virginia.

In a conference call with reporters Thursday morning, Dels. Rob Bell (R-Albemarle) and Todd Gildbert (R-Woodstock) said Kaine has never offered a coherent, logical explanation for the Soering transfer, and said the decision raised questions about Kaine's judgement.

Bell said that before he left office as governor, Kaine agreed to sign off on an "unheard of new remedy,” that Soering "cooked up," which would allow him to be repatriated to Germany.

"Kaine knew this effectively meant this double murderer would be released," once he was returned to Germany, Gilbert said.

Soering's lawyers had initially asked Kaine to grant clemency, but Kaine refused.

According to the deal Kaine and Soering's lawyers later agreed to, Kaine would ask the Justice Department to approve Soering's transfer to a prison in his native Germany, where he would serve what Kaine spokesman Amy Dudley told AMI Newswire was a "life sentence." 

As part of the deal, Soering would not have been able to apply for parole for at least two years after his repatriation. He also would have been banned from ever returning to the United States.

In 1990, a Bedford County jury found Soering, the son of a retired German diplomat, guilty of the 1985 stabbing deaths of Derek and Nancy Haysom in Bedford County, Virginia.

He was sentenced to two life terms in prison.

The Haysoms were the parents of Soering's then-girlfriend, Elizabeth Haysom.

Bell said Haysom and Soering were "two students at the University of Virginia who started a relationship together, and hatched a plan to murder her parents." 

They created "an elaborate alibi," to cover their tracks, Bell said, and it was Soering who committed the actual murders.

The two fled the country, and were eventually detained in England on check fraud charges. It was there, Bell said "Soering confessed to the killings," though he later recanted, and fought extradition to the United States.

Elizabeth Haysom pleaded guilty as an accessory to the murders. She is currently serving a 90-year sentence.

Kaine press secretary Amy Dudley told AMI Newswire that Kaine had received "assurances from the German government" that Soering had "been convicted to a life sentence in Germany, and would never be allowed to enter the U.S. again."

"Then-Governor Kaine recommended the Department of Justice consider transferring him into the German penal system where his own country could pay for his life imprisonment rather than Virginia taxpayers," Dudley said.

"He has had no involvement in the case since January 2010," Dudley said.

The case did come up during Kaine's successful Senate race against Republican George Allen in 2012.

In a December 2011 debate with Allen, Kaine said, "look, if somebody is in this country, and they're not a citizen, and they commit a horrible crime, we ought to kick them out as soon as we safely can."

"In this instance, we could safely do it with the guarantee that he wouldn't come back," Kaine said.

"And I thought that was sufficient to make the recommendation [transferring Soering to German custody] to the Justice Department," Kaine said.

Bedford County Sheriff's Officer R.W. Gardener, the lead investigator into the Haysom murders, told AMI Newswire he is still "100 percent confident Soering committed those crimes."

"It still upsets me," Gardener said, "to think about what Gov. Kaine did."

"If the Virginia parole board decided to release Soering," Gardener said, "I wouldn't have any problem with that. That's justice," Gardener said.

Soering has been eligible for parole in Virginia since 2003. He has been denied 10 times.

Gardener also told AMI Newswire Kaine never contacted him before issuing his order, and learned about the transfer agreement from his boss.

"I chuckled, and thought it was a rumor," Gardener said.

"When I learned it was real, I was totally shocked," Gardener said.

Quentin Kidd, director of the Judy Ford Wason Center for Public Policy at Christopher Newport University, told AMI Newswire the Soering issue may not be enough to derail the Democratic ticket.

"In the case of Kaine," Kidd said,  "for anything about him to hurt Clinton, it would have to be a part of a larger, consistent, critical narrative. Otherwise, it just gets swallowed up in the back-and-forth political bickering of the campaign."

"I'm not convinced that the Soering case is going to become an anchor around his or Clinton's ankle," Kidd said, "unless it were to somehow get linked to a series of 'flip-fops' and a negative narrative began to develop around him."