'Basically a mass murderer': Judge who heard Larry DeLisle case says clemency shouldn't happen

DETROIT (FOX 2) - It's been 35 years since Larry DeLisle drove his station wagon into the Detroit River – killing all four of his children. Now, he's hoping for clemency in one of the biggest criminal cases in Detroit in the past 50 years.

DeLisle is seeking clemency for the 1989 quadruple murder. He was convicted in 1990 and sentenced to spend life in prison without parole.

Before he was charged, the public believed Lawrence was a victim – until he confessed to police. Lawrence appealed his mandatory life sentence in 1993 and lost. His attorneys argued that his confession was coerced and that he was not given a fair trial because of the national media attention this case received.

The Michigan Parole Board held a public hearing on Thursday to consider the possible reduction of DeLisle's sentence. Witnesses testified in front of the Michigan Parole Board for or against Lawrence's plea during his clemency hearing. Then, the board will send recommendations to the governor's office for consideration.

The judge who presided over the original case, Judge Robert Colombo, Jr., says the jury got it right.

"He was there the day before casing the area planning the event," Colombo told FOX 2's Charlie Langton. "He had a difficult job, he wasn’t doing well. His father had committed suicide in the same vehicle. And I had suppressed some evidence where he tried to do the same thing years earlier, where he tried to blow up the house. There was a leak in the dryer and he placed a candle by it."

There was a confession but the judge didn't allow the jury to hear it, saying it wasn't reliable.

Another hurdle that Colombo and the attorneys had was picking a jury.

"It was very difficult, but I bent over backwards to give Mr. DeLisle a fair trial," he said.

The now-63-year-old wants the governor to commute his sentence and Colombo says it's clear that he's guilty and his stance on clemency is clear.

"Absolutely not. Basically, he’s a mass murderer," he said.

The Innocence Project is taking the case as well as a private investigator. The governor will make the ultimate decision, pending the recommendations from the board.