Gadsden Police Chief suspended for jail visits to convicted murderer

Gadsden Police Chief John Crane (City of Gadsden)

Gadsden Police Chief John Crane has been suspended for 15 days for violating rules involving jail visits to a convicted murderer, a member of The Gadsden Civil Service Board confirmed Thursday.

The decision was made Wednesday, and Crane will serve his suspension this month during the last five working days. Ten days will be held in abeyance.

Board member Alice Pruett said Crane visited convicted murderer Justin Denson once a month for approximately three years in the Etowah County Detention Center. In February, Denson was sentenced to 119 years for murder and fraudulent credit card use. He pleaded guilty to killing his mother, Nita Denson, in 2009.

Pruett said Crane knew Denson personally, and his visits were for religious reasons.

Calls to Crane were not returned. His attorney, Michael Haney, released the following statement Thursday:

"We very much respect the diligence and hard work of the Gadsden Civil Service Board. However, we were disappointed in the outcome of the recent proceedings as the evidence established that Chief Crane was involved in a religious outreach to someone who had been a family friend. The outreach began long before he became Gadsden Police Chief. It was clear that he had no intention affecting the legal process or the outcome of the legal process in which Justin Denson was involved. Chief Crane certainly did not desire to create any situation which would adversely affect the victim's family."

Mugshot of Justin Denson.

Watch ABC 33/40 News at 5 and 6 p.m. to get the latest on this story. You can watch it live online here.