A Kenosha County man will remain in prison for at least another seven months for the 1985 murder of Bristol resident Joseph Vite.
Eric S. Nelson, 50, had his parole considerations deferred after a May 14 hearing, according to Wisconsin Department of Corrections Deputy Communications Director Clare Hendricks. Nelson is expected to appear in front of the parole commission, once again, in October.
Last month, the Vite family sought support of county officials and created a community petition to keep Nelson behind bars.
Nelson was 16 years old and sentenced to life in prison, plus five additional years, for the Jan. 16, 1985, homicide of the 41-year-old Vite.
The Vite family released a statement on its blog, found online at https://keepamurdererbehindbars.home.blog.
“We’re pleased to report that Eric Nelson will spend at least seven more months behind bars,” the Vite family said.
“We thank everyone who signed our petition and shared it with family, friends and neighbors.
“The more than 3,100 signatures that we collected — plus the support we received from elected officials — no doubt made an impact on the commissioner’s decision.”
Vite was the oldest of six siblings in a large Italian-American family and a well-respected businessman who served the community as an American Family Insurance agent.
In a crime described by Kenosha County Circuit Court Judge Bruce Schroeder as “an assassination,” Vite was shot in the head with a rifle in an act orchestrated by one of his foster children, Daniel Dower.
Dower lived at the Bristol residence and conspired with Nelson, a Central High School classmate, to murder Vite and steal his cash, vehicle and weapons.
Joseph Vite, the victim’s brother, attended the hearing and addressed Wisconsin Parole commissioner Danielle Lacost.
“He’s a threat to society, and releasing him would not serve sufficient time so as to not depreciate the severity of the crime,” Ed Vite said. “When you lose somebody like that, it’s very, very difficult. All we can do is keep fighting.”
Nelson was sentenced under a past law — prior to the Life Means Life Act — which allowed individuals with life sentences to be eligible for parole.
Denied every year since 1999, Nelson could potentially be granted parole after being transferred to a minimum-security, pre-release correctional facility in Oneida.
“The fight’s not over,” said the Vite family. “Eric Nelson will likely go before the commission again in just a matter of months, and it’s important for us to continue to send the message that he does not belong out of prison.”
The family is encouraging local residents to sign its petition, which can be found on its blog or through a direct link at http://bit.ly/NelsonParolePetition.
“The support we’ve been given by people in the community and the district attorney’s office and elected officials has been unbelievable,” Ed Vite said.