Over the protests of law enforcement and his own state prosecutors, Huckabee commuted the sentence of Maurice Clemmons despite his long criminal record of violence and major concerns about his mental stability. Clemmons was convicted on at least five felonies in the state of Arkansas. He currently faces eight felony charges in Washington, before any charges that may result from the Lakewood killings. He was released from custody in Pierce County Jail less than a week before the Lakewood shootings.
Many are asking why Clemmons was released from the Pierce County Jail, given the seriousness of the charge pending against him (second-degree rape of a child), that there was a fugitive warrant for him in Arkansas, and that he was facing multiple felony charges in Washington. Clemmons posted $150,000 in bail through a Chehalis, Washington bond company. Bail was issued despite Clemmons’ history of assaulting police officers, and recorded statements that he had told his family members that he was Jesus Christ, that he could fly, and that he expected a visit from President Obama to confirm his status as the Messiah.
Clemmons has been in Washington State since 2004, after being released from prison in Arkansas. He started a power-washing company out of his home and has not been in trouble with the Washington police until this year. Clemmons served a total of 11 years on sentences of many decades duration before being released by Huckabee’s commutation in 1998. However, by March 2001 he was in trouble with the law again on theft and robbery charges. When he was released in 2004, he moved to Washington.
Police are currently searching for Clemmons, saying that they want to question him about the case. One thing is certain, however – if Clemmons is in fact the shooter, then Mike Huckabee’s no doubt well-intentioned pardon in the 1990s has cost the lives of four police officers and destroyed four families.
Huckabee’s extremely extensive use of the commutation power – granting 1,033 clemencies over his term as Governor, more than twice as many as had been granted by his last three predecessors combined, has been extensively critiqued in the blogosphere but has not yet seemed to dent the Arkansas governor’s political hopes or attracted much mainstream attention.
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Bob Hayes is the senior partner at DocRocket, a web content and writing services company. He is a freelance business consultant with particular expertise in software, Internet business development, and operational efficiency. In addition he maintains a personal blog at Bob Hayes Online.