|Criminal status||Incarcerated at Buckingham Correctional Center in Virginia|
|Conviction(s)||First degree murder|
|Criminal penalty||Life imprisonment|
Jens Söring (born 1 August 1966 in Bangkok, Thailand) is a German citizen who in 1990 was convicted of two counts of first-degree murder in the United States. Söring denies having committed the crime and has written a number of books about prison life and religion.
Early life and education
Jens Söring is the son of a German diplomat, Klaus Söring. He moved to the United States in 1977 and graduated from The Lovett School in Atlanta, Georgia, in 1984. He then attended the University of Virginia where he entered into a relationship with fellow student Elizabeth Haysom.
Crimes, confessions and extradition
Söring and Haysom were arrested for fraud after writing over $5,000.00 in fake checks and using false papers and lying to the police in London, England, on 30 April 1986. Under questioning by British, American, West German and Virginia authorities, Soering confessed to the double murder several times to several authorities, including medical persons.
Haysom waived extradition. Söring fought extradition (Soering v United Kingdom) and, when the United States agreed not to pursue the death penalty, he was extradited to the United States on 12 January 1990.
Trial and conviction
Söring was tried for two counts of first degree murder in 1990. According to the prosecution, Söring committed the murders and Haysom was an accessory before the fact. Söring pleaded not guilty, stating he made a false confession to protect Haysom, as he assumed he would have diplomatic immunity. Despite being a Jefferson Scholar at UVA and a self-described very intelligent person, Soring claims he did not know he would be tried in the United States. Since the trial, Söring has raised several issues regarding his trial: Richard Neaton, Söring's defense attorney, was subsequently disciplined and eventually disbarred for reasons unrelated to Soring's case, and admitted to having had a drug problem while representing Söring; moreover, the judge, William M. Sweeney, knew Nancy Haysom's brother (Elizabeth's uncle) and had presided over Elizabeth's court proceeding.
Ed Sulzbach, a FBI profiler, concluded that the crime had been committed by a female who knew the Haysoms, yet the profile was not entered into evidence. Sulzbach, interviewed for the 2016 documentary The Promise, stated on camera, "I settled on the daughter." A smeared sock print was introduced as evidence against Soring. The prosecution's expert witness, Robert Hallett, was not an expert on footprints.
Söring was sentenced to two consecutive life terms.
In 2009, the 42 pieces of DNA evidence from the crime scene were tested (technology was previously not sufficiently advanced). None of the 42 pieces of evidence contained Soring's DNA.
Jens Söring has been eligible for parole since 2003. His twelfth parole request was denied at the beginning of 2017.
A petition for an absolute pardon was filed on 22 August 2016, and is currently pending with Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe.
Chuck Reid, one of the original investigators of the Haysom murders, has occasionally agreed to be interviewed about the case. His participation in the 2016 documentary "The Promise" led him to take his long-standing doubts about the outcome more seriously.
An expert on police interrogations and confessions, Dr. Andrew Griffiths spent four months reviewing all statements Söring made to police and prosecutors after he and Haysom were caught in London a year after the murders, and concluded British and American investigators "violated a host of British laws," including holding Söring incommunicado and denying him access to his solicitor, however, this conclusion is unrelated to and separate from Soring's conviction in the United States. 
On 3 May 2017, Albemarle County Sheriff J. E. "Chip" Harding released a 19-page report on a months-long investigation he had conducted on this case. He concluded that Jens Söring is innocent and asked Governor McAuliffe to pardon him.
On 27 September 2017, Albemarle County Sheriff J.E. "Chip" Harding held a press conference on Jens Söring's case. Sheriff Harding had been investigating this case for a long time and had previously called on the governor to pardon Söring. In a supplement letter to Governor McAuliffe he stated that he was "convinced Mr. Söring did not kill Derek and Nancy Haysom and was not present at the scene when the murders took place." Retired Detective Sergeant Richard L. Hudson, Jr, who continues to assist Sheriff Harding in the investigation, also presented his conclusions. In his letter to the Governor, Hudson wrote "that the evidence appears to lead to a conclusion that Mr. Söring is innocent of murdering the Haysoms." Nationally recognized Serology and DNA expert, J. Thomas McClintock, Ph.D., who had reviewed the forensic files but had never worked on the Haysom case, presented his findings during the press conference. These findings were in accordance with the findings of Moses Schanfield Ph.D., a professor of forensic science and expert witness, who had reviewed the forensic files earlier in 2017 but had never worked on the Haysom case, and, at the time, concluded that "Söring must be excluded as the donor of unidentified blood stains found at the scene. Rather, the DNA evidence supports the conclusion that two unknown men left blood at the scene." This conclusion is different from other conclusions made by Soring and his team that set forth the theory that Elizabeth Haysom was at the scene. Prof. Schanfield wrote a supplement to his initial report, which was also presented to the press in his absence. This supplement contained additional observations which significantly strengthen his earlier opinions.
On October 10, 2017, Germany's ambassador Dr. Peter Wittig and its former president Christian Wulff, amongst Söring's Counsel Steven Rosenfield and others, attended Söring's 13th parole hearing. Following this hearing, Wittig told the assembled media "We are deeply convinced of the innocence of Jens Söring." 
On October 27, 2017, a further press conference was held in the Söring case. It was hosted by Gail Starling Marshall, former Deputy Attorney General of Virginia, who has been supporting Söring for more than 20 years and believes he is innocent. Speakers included Dr Moses Schanfield, a leading expert in DNA and serology and Dr Andrew Griffiths, an international expert in police interrogation techniques. During the press conference, Söring's counsel, Steven Rosenfield, announced that the University of Richmond School of Law's Institute for Actual Innocence supports Söring's pardon petition and that its founder and director, Prof. Mary Kelly Tate had now written a letter to the Governor of Virginia to ask that he grant Söring a pardon. Professor Tate said in an interview "I think the new DNA evidence is quite, quite compelling, and I think it's clear that Jens Söring would not be convicted today. I believe it's appropriate for him to get an absolute pardon or a conditional pardon." Dr Griffiths, who had spent 5 months reviewing the tapes and written protocols of the interrogations of Söring in 1986, confirmed that he believed Söring's confession to be unreliable. He strongly criticised Bedford County Sheriff's Office investigator Ricky Gardner's conduct at the time. Dr Schanfield presented a memorandum issued by the Virginia Department of Forensic Science which states that a particular blood stain found at the crime scene came from a single contributor and was not a mixture. This memorandum also confirms that Söring was eliminated as contributor of this stain.
Both the petition for an absolute pardon and the request for parole are currently[when?] pending. In the documentary, Killing For Love, as well as in other interviews of Soring from behind bars, Soring admits that there is presently no DNA evidence that exonerates him, though he believes that it contributes to reasonable doubt.
Life in prison
Söring has published several books and articles while incarcerated. 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. New York: Lantern Books. 2003. ISBN 1-59056-055-8.
- An Expensive Way to Make Bad People Worse: An Essay On Prison Reform from an Insider's Perspective. New York: Lantern Books. 2004. ISBN 1-59056-076-0.
- The Convict Christ: What the Gospel Says About Criminal Justice. Maryknoll, New York: Orbis Books. 2006. ISBN 1-57075-648-1.
- The Church of the Second Chance: A Faith-Based Approach to Prison Reform. New York: Lantern Books. 2008. ISBN 1-59056-112-0.
- One Day in the Life of 179212: Notes from an American Prison. New York: Lantern Books. 2012. ISBN 978-1-59056-345-8.
- A Far, Far Better Thing. New York: Lantern Books. 2017. ISBN 978-1-59056-564-3. (Written by Jens Söring and Pulitzer Prize-nominated Bill Sizemore, with a foreword by Martin Sheen).
A full-length documentary film about the case, Killing for Love (German: Das Versprechen or The Promise), by Marcus Vetter and Karin Steinberger, premiered at the Munich International Film Festival and was released theatrically in October 2016. It had its North American premiere on 5 November 2016 at the Virginia Film Festival. In the U.K., the film was shown in March 2017 on BBC Four as part of the documentary strand Storyville. In the Netherlands, public broadcaster NPO2 showed the film in two parts in its documentary series 2Doc in April 2017.
In March 2017, Killing for Love won the "Öngören" Award for Democracy and Human Rights at the "Filmfest Türkei Deutschland" in Nuremberg.
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