The Seattle Times has posted documents from the state parole board that bear on the decision by Gov. Mike Huckabee to commute murder suspect Maurice Clemmons' 108-year-prison sentence to immediate parole eligiblity. He said he'd fallen in with a bad crowd after moving to Arkansas, but had turned his life around. He said he'd prayed Huckabee would help him. Circuit Judge Marion Humphrey, who is also a Presbyterian minister, supported the clemency application.
Clemmons wrote in an appeal to Huckabee that he'd been sent to prison after an extended crime spree that started in 1989 when he was a teenager — and that he was a different person now.
At the time of the crimes — which included aggravated robbery, firearms possession and burglary — Clemmons claimed he was 16 years old and had moved from Seattle to a high-crime neighborhood in Arkansas.
"I succumbed to the peer pressure and the need I had to be accepted by other youth in my new environment and fell in with the wrong crowd and thus began a seven (7) month crime spree which led me to prison," Clemmons wrote in his application to Huckabee.
Clemmons said he came from "a very good Christian family" and "was raised much better than my actions speak (I'm still ashamed to this day for the shame my stupid involvement in these crimes brought to my family name.)," he wrote.
"Where once stood a young (16) year old misguided fool, who's (sic) own life he was unable to rule. Now stands a 27 year old man, who has learned through 'the school of hard knocks' to appreciate and respect the rights of others. And who has in the midst of the harsh reality of prison life developed the necessary skills to stand along (sic) and not follow a multitude of do evil, as I did as a 16 year old child."
Clemmons added that his mother had recently died without seeing him turn his life around and that he prayed Huckabee would show compassion by releasing him.
Prison spokesman Dina Tyler said Clemmons had two dozen rules violations, some for violent infractions, during his first nine years in state custody, but none his last two years on his first stint of imprisonment. He incurred one rule violation, for failing to follow an order, when he was returned to prison for three years for robbery, a setback, apparently, on his new life. I got the details on that. He invaded a Camden home with a gun and robbed three people. He apparently plea-bargained a robbery charge down from aggravated robbery.
Clemmons circulated through a number of prison units during his time as an inmate. He never worked on the coveted Governor's Mansion work details.
UPDATE: Here are documents released by parole officials today for Clemmons' paroles in 2000 and 2004, both objected to by prosecutors.
Here are letters sent in Clemmons' behalf by friends.