Skip to comments.Notorious 'Onion Field' Killer Up for Parole
Posted on 01/27/2010 1:35:23 PM PST by jessduntno
LOS ANGELES (Jan. 27) -- On the evening of March 9, 1963, two plainclothes L.A. police officers spotted a car making an illegal U-turn on a Hollywood street and decided to pull the driver over. It proved to be a fateful decision.
The driver was Gregory Powell. He and his partner, both armed robbers, got the drop on the cops, took their guns and drove them out into the Central Valley, where Powell -- mistakenly believing the kidnapping was a capital offense -- shot Officer Ian Campbell dead in the middle of a desolate onion field. The other officer, Karl Hettinger, managed to sprint off as the gunmen blazed away into the darkness.
That crime will be revisited Wednesday afternoon in a prison meeting room near San Luis Obispo, when Powell, 75, comes up for parole in a hearing marked by dark irony: Powell, the killer, is the only one of four men involved in that long-ago night who is still alive.
Despite the passage of time and the relative lack of current interest in the case, passions still burn hot among those most affected. The hearing is reuniting some of the same people and organizations that launched a petition drive and legal fight when Powell first came up for parole in 1982.
"One of the issues" the board considers "is the nature of the crime, and what I said was that the nature of the crime didn't change," said John Mancino, who was instrumental in that 1982 campaign. This week he again sent a letter to the parole board opposing Powell's release. "This guy had a long history of violence before he kidnapped and shot that police officer. That doesn't change with the passage of time."
(Excerpt) Read more at aolnews.com ...
WTF? Why is this even a story? Too bad we didn't take HIM out to an Onion Field...
What I want to know is, why in the world do people like this ever come up for parole???? He should never walk the streets free again as long as he lives.
“What I want to know is, why in the world do people like this ever come up for parole???? He should never walk the streets free again as long as he lives.”
Exactly. Then you come to this line;
“has come up for parole every two years, but refusing to cooperate with prison counseling and vocational programs have kept him in prison...”
and you feel like the top of your head will come off...why are we putting this clown in a psoition to be in the hunt?
Heck, even our old buddy Charlie Manson comes up for parole on a regular basis. God bless the system.....
Times have changed. Powell can now say the officers acted stupidly, but apparently he has not yet figured that out.
This always brings up a point. When those convicted of particularly heinous crimes are not executed, there ALWAYS is a possibility of a sentence being overturned, parole or a Lefty appeals court releasing these people allowing them to prey on people once again.
Makes my blood boil when I hear “Life imprisonment is better than the death penalty, they’ll spend the rest of their lives wishing they were out”, well maybe, maybe not. I mean, look at the makeup of our SCOTUS, that ought to give one the heebie-jeebies.
“Times have changed. Powell can now say the officers acted stupidly, but apparently he has not yet figured that out.”
God, that is so close to the truth it is a little sickening...I think I just heard a horse whinnying...
Life imprisonment is better than the death penalty, theyll spend the rest of their lives wishing they were out
Yeah...I hear that and I sometimes wonder if they aren’t smiling at night remembering it...
Bring back public hangings.
I loved the book. Wambaugh could really write.
Have you seen the movie and can anyone here tell me if it’s worth watching?
In May 1996, Chicago television news anchor Bill Kurtis received video tapes from an anonymous attorney that had been made at Stateville Prison in 1988. Showing them publicly for the first time before a shocked and deeply angry Illinois state legislature, Kurtis pointed out the explicit scenes of sex, drug use, and money being passed around by prisoners, who seemingly had no fear of being caught; in the center of it all was Speck, performing oral sex on another inmate, ingesting cocaine, parading in silk panties, sporting female-like breasts grown from smuggled hormone treatments, and boasting, “If they only knew how much fun I was having, they’d turn me loose.” The Illinois legislature packed the auditorium to view the two-hour video, but stopped the screening when the film showed Speck performing oral sex on another man.
From behind the camera, a prisoner asked Speck why he killed the nurses. Speck shrugged and jokingly said “It just wasn’t their night.” Asked how he felt about himself in the years since, he said “Like I always felt ... had no feeling. If you’re asking me if I felt sorry, no.” He also described in detail the experience of strangling someone: “It’s not like TV...it takes over three minutes and you have to have a lot of strength.” John Schmale, the brother of one of the murdered student nurses, said, “It was a very painful experience watching him tell about how he killed my sister.”
The tapes were later broadcast on the A&E Network’s Investigative Reports and were used to argue for the death penalty. The same airing of Investigative Reports included interviews with people who believed that Speck was not taking hormones, wearing panties, etc. voluntarily, and that he’d instead been forced to by other inmates — that this may have been his way of surviving his time in prison.
Its pretty good, IMO. James Woods is a convincing slimeball as Gregory Powell.
I agree!!! This is just nuts.
I found the book, haunting.
“I loved the book. Wambaugh could really write”
I grab every book he writes as soon as it hits the shelves. Very talented man. Wickedly funny!
Haunting is a good word to describe it. I was 12 yrs old and read it in two nights so I would also say compelling. I saw the movie and was underwhelmed after the book.
James Woods is an excellent actor...one of my other favorites of his is “The Boost”. He is at rock bottom, hits fame and fortune, finds out what cocaine is, and hits rock bottom again. Every college kid should see it...it will give them an appreciation for the fame/fortune part of things.
Just read Choirboys and you’ll find out how funny he really is. When I read the book the first time I thought he was writing about the PD I worked for. Scary!
Actually Campbell did not die in vane and that has not happened again since. The LAPD changed their policy after the murder.
Now an LAPD Officer won’t give up his gun even if they do have his partner at gunpoint. The armed officer is required to pull his gun and start shooting.
The reason is that it is better to take your chances and shoot it out on the street, than in a far off Onion Field.
Interesting, didn’t know that.
I remember enjoying it and as #13 noted, James Woods was very good at playing the killer. Very intense performance. Damned if I remembered until today that Ted Danson had a role too.
The book was great, The movie sucked.
No reason for this “person” to ever see the light of day again, except through bars. Waste of time and resources to give him a hearing.
I agree. A really good job by James Woods.
BUT I have never been able to watch him in anything else without getting creeped out by his performance in The Onion Fields.
That’s only for his Frau.
Powell is a POS and should never get out except on a slab.
Thank you for that relevant and detailed response in light of the comment I made. I had heard some reference to Speck in prison, oral sex, porn, etc. That’s what I mean. Many folks have a misconception about the unrepentant attitudes of these animals.
If I remember correctly Wambaugh was so upset with the way the movie was made he pulled out during production. Not even sure his name appeared anywhere in the credits.
I can’t recall any movies that did justice to Wambaugh’s books. The characters in the movies never matched up to what I had envisioned in my mind’s eye from reading the book.
I was an adult, and a policeman when I read The Onion Field. I remember cringing when I got to the part where Hettinger gave up his pistol. Understandable, but a real bad move.
I have found that in the vast majority of cases the movie sucks compared to the book.
There have been a number of changes in tactics based on what has happened to policemen in California.
Yeah. I remember when the movie The Choir Boys came out. I went to it with a few of my squad. It sucked, and we were pissed. Had to go have our own choir practice to make up for it.
Plant him like an onion, in a field..