A man who has been behind bars for 45 years for killing an Independence Police Officer could soon be free. He's up for parole in a little more than month but a petition is circulating to make sure he stays behind bars. Lieutenant David Kraxner was killed in the line of duty 45 years ago.
The people who helped catch his killer want to make sure he never gets out of prison.
"He was a cold blooded killer," said Larry Porter. "He showed no emotion for what he'd done."
Larry Porter remembers getting the call on Halloween 1966 about an officer who was shot at 40 Highway and Chrysler. A memorial now marks the spot where the shooting happened.
Lawrence Merola was a wanted man. He shot a prison guard while being transported to trial. He also murdered a man to steal his car. Lieutenant Kraxner spotted Merola while he was on the run.
"He had a photographic memory," Porter said. "He remember the license number Merola was driving that's why he stopped the car."
The two exchanged gunfire. Bullets hit both men. Police eventually caught Merola and Det. Porter guarded him for three nights in the hospital. He will never forget what Merola said to him.
"He says you want me to tell you what your lieutenant's last words were?" "I said yeah. He says 'help me. So I shot him again in the chest.'"
Porter says at that time he got angry. Now it makes him sick to his stomach that anyone could be so cold blooded . Kraxner's name is etched on a memorial in front of the Independence Police Station. It's a constant reminder of the ultimate sacrifice. Merola was sentenced to life in prison.
"He needs to be in jail the rest of his life," he said. "That's where he needs to spend his life and die."
Merola is now 70-years-old. Some people in the police department are worried he could be paroled because of his age. He hasn't been a model prisoner though. He has 253 conduct violations ranging from stealing to assault and attempted escape.
"He's just a cold blooded killer," he said. "If he gets out, that is what he'll do again. I don't care how old he is, that's what he does. He's a killer."
Independence Police are circulating a petition opposing merola's release from prison. Several retired officers plan on speaking at the parole hearing.