PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. — For the second time in less than a year, Kathy Nixon is faced with the possibility that her daughter's killer may soon walk free.
Later this month, the State Board of Parole will consider whether to allow the release of Robert A. Jones from Livingston Correctional Facility, where he is serving 18 years to life for the 1987 kidnapping, rape and murder of Kari Lynn Nixon.
When the inmate was denied parole last August, at his most recent biennial hearing, Kathy Nixon breathed a sigh of relief, believing she could set her fears aside until the summer of 2017.
She recently learned, however, that Jones has been granted an administrative appeal in regard to the 2015 denial and will receive a de novo, or "do-over," appearance before the board during the week of Monday, June 27.
Details of administrative appeal decisions are not available to the public.
Never came home
"It never goes away, and he's never going to give up," said Nixon, who last saw her 16-year-old daughter at about 9:30 p.m. on the night of June 22, 1987.
Kari Lynn walked to a convenience store about a block and a half from her house to buy snacks and never returned home.
Over the next several years, hundreds of potential leads were investigated in the case, but none panned out.
Meanwhile, retired State Supreme Court Justice Bernard "Bud" J. Malone Jr., an assistant U.S. attorney at the time, was working on a case against Jones for his suspected role in a series of bank robberies in the Northeast, including one in Plattsburgh on Nov. 2, 1992 and another in the nearby town of AuSable Forks on Oct. 23, 1990.
Kept wife free
In December 1993, Jones, whose parents lived just 3 miles from Kari Lynn's home, pleaded guilty to the bank robberies, as well as a firearms charge, and shortly after, was sentenced to 15 years in prison.
However, his wife, Theresa, who had pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting in the Plattsburgh bank robbery, had not yet been sentenced.
On Jan. 28, 1994, as part of a surprise plea agreement to keep his wife out of prison, Robert confessed to kidnapping, raping and murdering Kari Lynn in June 1987.
The following day, he led police to a wooded area on his parents' property, where he had buried the teen's body nearly seven years earlier.
Dance with the devil
Part of the agreement, however, was that he would be sentenced to 18 years to life in prison, which would be served concurrently with his prior sentence.
This meant Robert might serve only an extra three years for the murder. But prosecutors felt they had no choice but to agree to the terms.
"Initially, both of the Clinton County and Essex County district attorneys were understandably upset with this proposal," Malone wrote in an August 2015 letter to the Board of Parole.
"But upon reflection and much discussion with Kari Lynn's long grieving parents, the dance with the devil began."
The former judge, who vows to do all he can to keep Robert behind bars, told the Plattsburgh, New York Press-Republican his interest in the matter is personal, not professional.
Still, he noted, the case is by far the most profound and tragic he has worked on in his career.
Before each and every one of Robert's hearings, Kathy recounts her daughter's murder to a Board of Parole representative.
"He strangled her, and then he shot her twice in the chest," she told the Plattsburgh, New York Press-Republican. "She died alone, begging for her life."
As painful as it is to relive the nightmare, Kathy fears not doing so may result in the killer's release.
"I'm Kari's advocate," she told the Plattsburgh, New York Press-Republican. "I have to let everybody know the viciousness of what he did."
Kathy also hopes others will write letters to the Board of Parole advocating for Robert's continued incarceration.
"Nothing has changed," she said. "Kari is still gone.
"He is still the one that kidnapped, raped and murdered her."
In addition, Kathy noted, "I don't ever believe that he's ever said he's sorry."
Livingston writes for the Plattsburgh, New York Press Republican.