“I finally got to meet the son-of-a-bitch,” said Dennis Kordalewski of his first ever encounter with Darrell Glenn Welch, the man who killed his brother 25 years ago.
Dennis traveled from Rhode Island with his husband, Alex, and his 13-year-old nephew to attend the first parole hearing for Welch who is serving a 34-years-to-life prison sentence. Welch was convicted of killing Stephen Kordalewski by shooting him twice in the back of the head May 16, 1991.
That Thursday afternoon, the two men left a bar in Quincy together and headed into the hills around Lee Summit. Stephen was relieving himself in the woods when Welch came up from behind and shot him in the back of the head. Welch shot Stephen once more in the head after his body had fallen to the ground.
Dennis Kordalewski described his brother’s killer as “looking like a tough guy,” during the parole hearing, “with tattoos all up and down his arms.”
“During the hearing, Welch addressed the panel and offered his condolences, but could not articulate why he took the victim’s life,” said Plumas County District Attorney David Hollister, who attended and addressed the hearing personally.
The parole board asked Welch about the incident that occurred in 1991 and Welch said, “yes,” that he shot the 30-year-old Stephen in the back of the head.
“He said he only shot him once,” said Dennis, “but when the parole board asked him about the second shot and the bullet found under the body, Welch just didn’t answer,” said Dennis.
According to Kordalewski, Welch didn’t answer many of the questions that were posed to him during this, his first parole hearing for this particular crime: first-degree murder with a use of a firearm, enhancement and possession of a firearm by a felon.
“He already had five prior convictions,” said Kordalewski as he addressed the parole board. “Convict Welch was a convicted felon when he murdered my brother,” noted Kordalewski.
“Evidence was presented at the hearing that Welch’s criminal history began as a juvenile at age 13 and that he had spent most of his life in jail, prison or on parole — including five prison commitments prior to the murder of Kordalewski,” said Hollister.
Kordalewski informed the parole board what occurred in his family because of the permanent and lethal actions of Welch. He told the parole board that the ordeal took a lot out of his dad. “It was as though convict Welch had sucked the life out of him,” said Kordalewski.
In the end, Kordalewski had but one conclusion: a strong recommendation that Welch never be paroled.
“He should continue to be in prison until his last breath is sucked out of him,” stated Kordalewski.
The parole board denied freedom for Welch on Dec. 21 at the Mule Creek State Prison in Ione. They determined not to consider parole for the convicted murderer for at least another seven years. Dennis said, “I’ll be there. I’ll be there every time.”
In finding Welch unsuitable for parole, the hearing panel found that the crime was “horrific” and that Welch could not articulate why he committed the offense. Welch’s history of violence was also considered. The panel learned that Welch had a criminal history that included violence and weapons convictions, including a gang affiliation with the Hells Angels. He also had many rule violations while in prison, though his last occurred in 2006.
“I am very pleased with this result. The panel’s action in denying parole for at least seven years was appropriate as was their description of this crime as horrific,” said Hollister. “I am grateful our DA’s office was able to join Dennis’ effort in assuring justice would continue to be served and an exceptionally dangerous murderer would remain in prison,” said Hollister.