NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — The fate of a man who murdered a woman nearly three decades ago is now in the hands of the Tennessee Board of Parole.

On Wednesday, James Michael Spann made his case for an early release after serving over 28 years in prison. The family of Karie Ann Newberry pleaded the opposite and urged to keep him behind bars for life.

The board chairman who listened to both sides denied the possibility of parole. Now it’s up to the other six members to decide. The chairman recommended that Spann get another chance two years from now but the victim’s family said they’ll continue to fight that possibility. 

“He stole her from me, I never got to know what she was like,” said D.J. Tucker, Karie’s son.

It was emotional testimony Tucker gave as he faced his mom’s murderer during the parole hearing.

“He should have to serve every day possible, my sister did not even get a chance to start her life,” Brandy Richardson, Karie’s sister said.

In 1993, James Spann was sentenced to life in prison after pleading guilty to murdering Karie Ann Newberry when she was just 17 years old, leaving behind a five-month-old son, D.J. Tucker.

📧 Have breaking come to you: Subscribe to News 2 email alerts

“To Karie’s family, I am truly sorry for my actions, and all the pain that I have caused. And I know there are no words to replace what they truly lost,” Spann said.

Spann read his statement Wednesday before being denied parole by the chairman.

Tucker and his family said they are relieved. But now, a reminder the entire board still has to cast their votes despite the chairman’s recommendation. 

“Eventually he will get out and what does that mean for our family? I just feel like the justice has kind of failed for Karie,” Richardson said.

 Karie’s sister Brandy said they will continue to fight for justice, and they will be back two years from now. “Why should he get a chance at any outside life when he took that from all of us?”

Tucker added he too would continue to fight, “She can’t get her life back, so why should he?”

This wasn’t Spann’s first time asking for early release. Four years ago, he was denied by the board.

⏩ Read today’s top stories on

As for what’s next, the six other board members will look at the case—four more concurring votes are needed for a decision.