1 August 1966 |
|Incarcerated at Buckingham Correctional Center|
|Conviction(s)||First degree murder|
Jens Söring (born August 1, 1966 in Bangkok, Thailand) is a German citizen who has been incarcerated since April 30, 1986. In 1990, he was convicted on two counts of first degree murder in Virginia, USA. Söring denies having committed the crime.
Jens Söring is the son of a German diplomat. In 1984, he began to study at the University of Virginia and subsequently entered into a relationship with a fellow student named Elizabeth Haysom. In March 1985, Haysom's parents, Derek William Reginald Haysom (born 1913) and Nancy Astor Langhorne (Benedict) Haysom (born 1931), were murdered. Jens Söring and Elizabeth Haysom were arrested in England the following year when they were caught with a check fraud scheme. Initially, Söring claimed to be guilty of the murder but later withdrew his confession. Söring said he took the blame in order to prevent Elizabeth Haysom from being sentenced to death and executed on the electric chair, as he thought he would get deported to Germany, face a juvenile court and thus given a lighter sentence. He also thought his father's job as a mid-level diplomat would secure him diplomatic immunity. At trial, Elizabeth Haysom accused him of being the murderer, but admitted being an accessory in the crime.
The court case
In court, Jens Söring claimed that Elizabeth Haysom was the murderer and that he wanted to spare her the death penalty by confessing. Söring later claimed to have assumed he would be extradited to Germany due to his father's diplomatic immunity and be sentenced according to local juvenile criminal law to a sentence of less than 10 years. According to the prosecution's case, Söring was the sole offender and Elizabeth Haysom was only an instigator. Although there were neither eyewitnesses nor usable DNA or fingerprints of Söring at the scene, the jury found him guilty due to the presence of other circumstantial evidence as well as his confession. Even though he later repudiated the confession, he mentioned that the killing involved a knife, that the Haysoms were drinking, and other details that were consistent with the facts. In 2009, the 42 pieces of DNA evidence from the crime scene were tested (before, technology was not advanced enough). None of the 42 DNA pieces were from Jens Söring.
Söring received two consecutive life sentences for the murders.
Söring was arrested on check fraud charges in London, England, on April 30, 1986, and extradited to the United States on January 12, 1990. He is currently serving his sentence at the Buckingham Correctional Center in Dillwyn, Virginia. In 2001, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected his appeal. Söring quarreled with his father at that time and has not spoken to him since then.
Six applications for early release from prison (the latest in July 2011) were rejected, as were all requests for transfer to a prison in Germany.
Elizabeth Haysom was sentenced to 90 years imprisonment (one 45-year sentence for each murder, to be served consecutively). She has a mandatory release date in 2032 when she will be 68 years old.
Söring has published books and articles during his time in prison. In 2007, his book The Convict Christ was awarded first prize by the Catholic Press Association of North America in the category, "Social Concerns."
- The Way of the Prisoner: Breaking the Chains of Self Through Centering Prayer and Centering Practice. Lantern Books, New York 2003, ISBN 1-59056-055-8.
- An Expensive Way to Make Bad People Worse: An Essay On Prison Reform from an Insider's Perspective. Lantern Books, New York 2004, ISBN 1-59056-076-0.
- The Convict Christ: What the Gospel Says About Criminal Justice. Orbis Books, Maryknoll, N.Y. 2006, ISBN 1-57075-648-1.
- The Church of the Second Chance: A Faith-Based Approach to Prison Reform. Lantern Books, New York 2008, ISBN 1-59056-112-0.
- One Day in the Life of 179212: Notes from an American Prison. Lantern Books, New York 2012, ISBN 978-1-59056-345-8.
- Marc Pitzke, "Deutscher in US-Haft: 'Ich sehne mich nach dem ewigen deutschen Nörgeln'", Spiegel, February 28, 2012(http://www.spiegel.de/panorama/justiz/0,1518,817151,00.html)
- Lantern Books: Jens Soering publications
- prisonpolicy.org book review: An Expensive Way to Make Bad People Worse