Driver who killed Kingsport businessman denied parole

Rain Smith • Aug 21, 2017 at 9:30 PM

Parole has been denied for James Hamm, the man convicted in the 2014 drunken hit-and-run that killed Kingsport businessman Mike Locke.

Sullivan County District Attorney General Barry Staubus says he was notified of the Board of Parole's decision on Monday. Earlier this month, Staubus and Locke's widow, Debbie, spoke against Hamm's early release during a parole hearing.

Hamm, who is incarcerated at Northwest Correctional Complex in Tipton, Tenn., will next be eligible for parole in two years.

Locke founded the popular Kingsport eatery the Hot Dog Hut, and he briefly served as state representative for the 2nd House District after the 2002 passing of Rep. Keith Westmoreland. He was also an active community volunteer in a number of organizations.

In May 2014, Locke was along Fort Henry Drive when he was fatally struck by Hamm's vehicle. At the time of the incident, Locke was posting campaign signs for former Kingsport police officer Bud Hulsey. Hulsey later won the seat for the state 2nd House District.

In May 2016, Hamm received a 14-year prison sentence with no parole eligibility until 30 percent of the time had been served. His eligibility came up this month with "good time” credits that are dictated by Tennessee legislation, allowing convicts to knock off portions off their sentences by working institutional jobs, taking part in prison programs and remaining discipline free.

Hamm has also been given 887 credits for his incarceration in Sullivan County. From Hamm's arrest for Locke's death in June 2014 through his sentencing two years later, Hamm received 703 pretrial/time-served credits and 184 for good behavior. Each credit earned counts as one day served.

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