James Wesley Foote will spend at least another 2½ years behind bars.

Sentenced to life by a Johnson County jury for his role in the 1985 kidnapping of Alvarado teenager Amy McNiel, Foote has been incarcerated in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice system for the last 25 years, the minimum he had to serve before being considered for parole.

The Texas Board of Pardons and Parole voted in July to move Foote to a prerelease therapeutic program, which began in October at the Hamilton penitentiary unit in Bryan, and grant him parole contingent on his completing the stint successfully.

He was slightly more than two months away from that when the Board of Pardons and Paroles voted Friday morning and gave the order to keep Foote behind bars.

A Board of Pardons and Paroles spokesman said Friday that Foote would not go before the board again until July 2011.

The board gave no reason for reversing its earlier decision, the spokesman said.

The victim declined to comment on the case.

Michelle Lyons, spokeswoman for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice in Huntsville, confirmed the earlier parole decision Thursday.

“I show that James Wesley Foote is at the Hamilton Unit in Bryan,” she said. “He was granted parole contingent upon his completion of a six-month prerelease program. He would not be released until at least April 1.”

Foote, an Alvarado native, was convicted of five different felonies the year of the kidnapping.

The Johnson County conviction was aggravated kidnapping, deadly weapon, ransom.

He was convicted in Tarrant County of burglary of a habitation with deadly weapon.

One Hopkins County conviction was for possession of a prohibited weapon. The other four Hopkins County convictions were for attempted capital murder in the East Texas shootout with law enforcement officials on Jan. 13, 1985, the day the teen was rescued.

The 48-year sentences were concurrent.

On July 4, 1985, Foote escaped from the former Johnson County jail on Mill Street while in Cleburne on a bench warrant. He was recaptured seven days later near Paris in East Texas. He was not tried for the jail escape.

Foote’s 1985 trial was widely reported in the media. Print reporters from Fort Worth, Dallas and The Associated Press descended on Cleburne, and television stations set up portable broadcasting equipment outside the courthouse.

Several incidents of violence occurred during the trial.

At one point, Foote kicked Eddie Boggs, sheriff at the time, as he was being led into court and had to be dragged into court by deputies.

After the verdict, Texas Rangers escorted him to the jail.

According to a Times-Review account at the time, “This was not Foote’s first altercation with law officers. He reportedly became angered with a law enforcement officer after [the officer] testified against him. Some of the officers think this may have brought on the attack against Boggs.

“Foote also became agitated when news cameramen began filming him on his way back from the courtroom and taunted them.

“In final arguments, court-appointed attorneys Hugh Higgins and Bill Leonard claimed that the defendants had been subject to prosecutorial overkill and they motioned for a mistrial several times.

“However, Assistant District Attorney Bill Mason lined up two pistols and two sawed-off shotguns on the jury box railing, taken from the kidnappers after they were apprehended.

“While waving one of the shotguns in the air, [Mason] said, ‘I submit to you that Amy McNiel had to look down the business end of one of these more than once, and I’ll ask you to return a verdict of guilty.’”

Foote and four other suspects were apprehended Jan. 13, 1985, near Saltillo, northeast of Dallas, after Rangers rescued McNiel, then 13.

The girl was kidnapped in Alvarado, taken to Arlington and then to East Texas.

The kidnappers demanded $100,000 for her return and threatened to kill her if the abduction was reported in the media.

She was held captive for two days.

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