Serial rapist in landmark AL DNA conviction case denied parole
MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - A Montgomery serial rapist convicted in the late 1980s has been denied parole. Timothy Yelder, 54, is serving four life sentences for the rapes of four women in east Montgomery in 1988.
It’s a historic case for Montgomery County, as it was the first to use DNA evidence. While it’s been 30 years since the crimes occurred, for victim Penny Nichols, it still feels like only 30 days.
“I got the notice for parole two months ago," Nichols explained. “I’ve had two months to think about this and get ready for it. It’s difficult for my husband and my family, as well.”
Nichols was the second of Yelder’s four known rape victims. For her, this conviction is a life sentence in its own right.
“There’s a lot of things victims go through that most people don’t realize,” she explained. “Even now, if my husband barely touches me I jump.”
Tuesday, Nichols made her fourth trip to the Alabama Board of Pardons and Paroles to oppose Yelder’s release, reliving the worst day of her life again.
“I am terrified of this man,” Nichols testified before the Board. “He was violent. He had a knife to my throat.”
Cases so horrific, it brought former Montgomery District Attorney Ellen Brooks out of retirement to protest the parole. Brooks prosecuted all four cases as an assistant district attorney.
“I have no doubts at all that Timothy Yelder should spend the rest of his life in prison,” Brooks stated. “It was a difficult set of cases. Not only did we have four victims, we didn’t have anyone who could identify him. He was very careful in how he committed these offenses. He slipped up and made a mistake in the last case where he left a partial palm print in the window.”
They were convictions that may have never materialized without the use of DNA evidence.
“I will never forget that day I was in court on the case, and someone walked in and handed me the results of the DNA testing,” Brooks recalled. “It showed without a doubt he was the perpetrator in at least four victims.”
Yelder’s siblings asked the Board to grant parole, saying he was a changed man. After the Board deliberated the case, they denied him early release.
“I am relieved,” Nichols stated after the emotional hearing. “I am a survivor. It’s taken a lot of prayers, counseling, family, support, and friends to get through this.”
For Nichols, the relief is momentary. In five years she will make the trip back to downtown Montgomery and do it all over again.
“It’s never ever over for them in their lives,” Brooks said of the victims. “It should never be over for Timothy Yelder.”
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