Convicted killer of Leesville woman denied parole 

Pamela Sleezer

A former Fort Polk soldier who pled guilty to the kidnapping, rape and murder of a Leesville woman in 1988 was denied his request for early release by the Louisiana Probation and Parole board on Tuesday.

Samuel Galbraith, 51, appeared virtually before an audience of three board members, members of his own family and of the victim’s family, and law enforcement officials to plead his case that his recent years of good behavior in prison showed he could be trusted to be released early, despite having only served a fraction of the 71-year sentence he had been given for the death of 21-year-old Karen Hill.

That request was denied in a 2-1 vote by board members, with Judge Tony Marabella having been the sole vote in favor of granting Galbraith early release with restrictions that included a curfew and travel limitations. Board members Brennan Kelsey and Victor Jones offered the two denial votes.

“The cases that come before us are always difficult; we all play different roles, but our job is to make the best decision that we can,” Kelsey stated while noting how extensively Galbraith’s case had been researched before Tuesday’s hearing.

Galbraith is expected to reappear before the board again in the near future once he becomes eligible for another review.

During his testimony, Galbraith spoke of the many programs he has taken advantage of during his time incarcerated, including completing four phases of a sexual offender program offered at Angola. He offered sympathy to the family members of his victim, Karen Hill, and claimed that he was no longer the 18 year-old “selfish idiot” he once had been.

“I want to help my family. I want to give back,” he stated.

That testimony, however, seemed overshadowed by that from law enforcement officials who investigated and prosecuted the case. VPSO detective Jeffrey Price provided photos from the crime scene where Galbraith tied Hill to a tree and then shot her in the eye, causing her death, and testified that Galbraith confessed to the crime, saying it had been the fulfillment of a fantasy he had.

Retired Vernon Parish District Attorney Asa Skinner also appeared and gave an impassioned testimony explaining his strong opposition to Galbraith’s release.

“This was a horrible, heinous crime and for that fact alone he does not deserve any kind of leniency. (Galbraith) says it was because he was hanging around a bad crowd, but it was in fact those members of this ‘bad crowd’ that called our office to report what he had done,” Skinner stated.

Galbraith was convicted in 2000 after pleading guilty to kidnapping Hill on Nov. 21, 1988 from a convenience store on Entrance Road where she worked while her husband was also stationed at Fort Polk as an active duty soldier. Her body was left tied to a tree in a wooded area utilized by the military for training operations.

The murder went unsolved for nine years until soldiers who served with Galbraith contacted the Vernon Parish DA’s Office to ask if they had any unsolved homicides that matched the “fantasy” detailed by Galbraith that night. He was later located in south Texas and expedited back to Louisiana to face his charges.Samuel Galbraith

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