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Published October 09, 2012, 08:29 PM

Board: Grand Forks murderer to be released in 2016

Alvin William Englehart, convicted in 1992 of murdering Shirley Stigal in Grand Forks, will be released to a halfway house six months before his scheduled release in 2016, the state Parole Board decided Monday.

By: Stephen J. Lee, Grand Forks Herald

Alvin William Englehart, convicted in 1992 of murdering Shirley Stigal in Grand Forks, will be released to a halfway house six months before his scheduled release in 2016, the state Parole Board decided Monday.

He was sentenced to 38 years in prison following a plea deal, but is eligible for release after serving about two-third of the sentence under rules for good behavior, said Duane Houdek, chairman of the six-member Parole Board.

The board decided to aid Englehart's transition to freedom in 2016 by sending him to a halfway house for his last six months to better prepare him for life on the outside, Houdek said.

A niece of Stigal told the Herald she hadn’t known of Englehart’s parole hearing and is angry Englehart even got one. The niece, who lives in northeast North Dakota, said Englehart had been abusive to Stigal, his girlfriend, and had stolen from the victim.

Nobody spoke at Englehart’s hearing, for or against his release, said Houdek and Pat Bohn, spokesman for the Parole Board.

The board normally contacts someone in the victim’s immediate family and doesn’t turn away any family member who wishes to appear, Houdek said.

Parole rules

Englehart was 39 and Stigal 60 when he killed her in their downtown apartment June 21, 1991.

Her niece said he had beaten her for most of the nine months that he and Stigal were in a relationship. The niece said Stigal had a difficult life, and some of her children had died.

Englehart grew up in Tennessee and North Carolina, and later traveled with a carnival. He had been convicted of several violent crimes before he moved to Grand Forks in 1984.

For the murder of Stigal, he had faced a maximum sentence of life in prison with no chance of parole before 30 years, but that was reduced in the plea deal.

The sentence was further reduced under old parole rules that changed shortly after his case, according to Houdek. Those rules allow prisoners to earn up to 10 days per month of “good time,” he said, which meant that most prisoners who behaved served about two-thirds of their sentences.

Under that math, Englehart is due to be released Nov. 25, 2016, assuming he continues his generally good behavior and earns the maximum good time, said Bohn.

Shortly after Englehart entered prison, the rules were changed so that prisoners convicted since then earn only five days per month of good behavior, Bohn said.

In 1995, the Legislature decided that those who commit violent crimes, such as the one Englehart committed, must serve 85 percent of their sentence before they are even eligible for parole, Bohn said.

Under those rules, Englehart would not have been eligible for parole until about 2023; but he remains under the old rules.

His release date could change if he behaves very badly and the Department of Corrections takes away his good time. If he committed a crime in prison, for example, he could end up serving the entire 38 year sentence and any sentence for the new crime.

The Parole Board could also reconsider its own decisions, although it can’t take away good time itself; that’s a prerogative of the prison itself.


Call Lee at (701) 780-1237; (800) 477-6572, ext. 1237; or send email to slee@gfherald.com.

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