Oklahoma Death Row Inmate Denied Clemency23-Dec-2013
An Oklahoma death row inmate scheduled to be executed at the beginning of the new year asked the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board last week to commute his sentence, but the board denied his request for clemency.
Michael Lee Wilson, 38, was seeking clemency for his death sentence following a first degree murder conviction for the 1995 beating death of a convenience store manager in Tulsa. Wilson was sentenced to death, but he asked the Parole Board to commute the sentence to life in prison.
Three other men in addition to Wilson were also convicted in the death of 30-year-old Richard Yost, who was bound and beaten with baseball bats in the cooler of a Tulsa convenience store.
- Darwin Brown was executed in 2009.
- Billy Alverson, who also sought clemency, was executed in 2011.
- Richard Harjo was sentenced to life without parole.
The judge who sentenced Alverson, former judge Ned Turnbull, spoke at Alverson's clemency hearing, calling the man the least culpable of the four and saying that the death penalty was not appropriate in Alverson's case. The Pardon and Parole Board denied clemency, and Alverson was the first execution of 2011.
Wilson's clemency hearing took place last Monday, December 16. His execution is scheduled for January 9, 2014.
Pardon, parole, and commutation are three types of clemency, or mercy, shown to people convicted of certain crimes. Each has a different purpose and function, but they provide some measure of relief to those serving prison sentences for felony conviction.
A pardon is, in essence, forgiveness of a crime. It does not, like an expungement, purge or clear a record, but it is an official recognition that a convicted person has turned his or her life around. A person who is currently serving time cannot be pardoned, and a pardon does not grant a convicted person release from prison. Rather, a pardon is granted only to those who have discharged their sentences and served at least five years of probation without pending charges. After a pardon, a person may have some civil liberties restored and may become eligible for record expungement.
Parole is typically early release from prison--however, a person can be paroled to another facility to complete his or her sentence. In general, however, parole means that a person is released from prison to serve the remainder of his or her term under supervised release. Parole violations result in the revocation of parole, and the person is sent back to prison and faces additional penalties for violating parole.
Commutation is the abbreviation of a sentence. A person sentenced to death may seek to have a sentence commuted to life. A person sentenced to decades for a drug offense may seek to have the sentence commuted to a more reasonable term. A commutation may or may not result in the release of the person from prison, but it does reduce the sentence.
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