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Online drive opposes parole for guitarist's killer

A HEAVY-METAL band has turned to an online audience to fight the parole of the man who killed one of its guitarists in 1988, the latest use of Internet petitions to attempt to influence parole boards.

The Ohio parole board said yesterday it would consider online petitions filed in the case of Robert Bedzyk, who was sentenced to 15 years to life in prison for killing Destructor guitarist Dave Iannicca. But one Internet expert said such drives can overstate the backing for an issue because of easy accessibility.

The number of people backing the online petition drive mounted by relatives and fellow band members of Iannicca grew by hundreds to more than 3,100 yesterday after his hometown newspaper, The Plain Dealer, highlighted the effort. Backers have come from Europe, Asia and South America since the band began promoting the online petition drive through its MySpace page two weeks ago.

Bedzyk's hearing before the board in May will be his third try for parole.

Iannicca, 23, was stabbed early New Year's Day 1988 during a private band party. Along with the holiday, Iannicca was celebrating a record deal and his engagement to be married. Bedzyk, who crashed the party, was asked to leave and stabbed the victim when Iannicca went outside to make sure Bedzyk wasn't vandalizing anything.

The band manager, Bill Peters, who has been with the group since it started in 1983, said Iannicca was a quiet person and good friend. "He was real mellow, a kind of peacemaker kind of guy," he said.

In addition to the online petition, the state parole board said it has received 10 letters and 42 signatures opposing parole for Bedzyk, now 43.

"Dave was an innocent person. It wasn't like he was at the other end of some fight or something," said a fellow band member, Dave Just, 44, who goes by the stage name "Overkill."

JoEllen Culp, a spokeswoman for the parole board, said an online petition wouldn't be weighted differently than a signed petition that might be more time-consuming to make.

"A petition such as this would be considered community attitude, which is something that's always taken into consideration when the parole board makes their decision," Culp said.

Online petitions to the parole board have become more common in recent years, she said.

Jacqueline Lipton, a law professor at Case Western Reserve University and co-director of its Center for Law, Technology and the Arts, said an Internet petition might exaggerate the support for an issue.

"It is much easier to mobilize groups of people online in these kinds of contexts so perhaps a parole board would be wise to discount the volume of e-signatures, or at least to keep it in perspective," she wrote in an e-mail to The Associated Press.

"You can't really equate the volume of people supporting something in an online context with the volume of signatures that you might obtain in the physical world," she wrote.

As for Bedzyk, Just said, "To me, he's a heartless and cold person who should serve the rest of his life in prison."

Bedzyk's mother, Linda, told the newspaper that her son had learned from a past that involved drugs and alcohol and understood how the crime affected people.

Messages left for attorneys listed for Bedzyk in court records were not returned.


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