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Violent felon granted clemency by Huckabee now sought in Lakewood, WA police ambush; Update: Huck PAC posts statement; Update: Search continues; how Clemmons played Arkansas; Update: Huck whitewashes on O’Reilly (and vice versa); Update: Clemmons is dead

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By Michelle Malkin  •  November 29, 2009 09:58 PM


Faces of the fallen: Sgt. Mark Renninger, 39; Officers Ronald Owens, 37; Tina Griswold, 40; Gregory Richards, 42.

Scroll for updates…SWAT team reportedly surrounded a Clemmons family home late Sunday…KIRO TV in Seattle has details…Reward for information leading to arrest now up to $120,0004:15am Eastern 11/30…hostage negotiator on loudspeaker attempting to communicate with Clemmons…Twitter hashtag for latest breaking developments: #lakeshoot…Live Seattle police scanner stream via KOMO here4:37am Eastern…residents reporting hearing flashbangs…Officer’s message to Clemmons: “I can tell you this, we are not going away”…11:20am Eastern…Clemmons NOT found in home surrounded by police; area college students, workers warned…12:51pm Eastern. Latest report says Clemmons was seen getting off a metro bus on the UW campus…Beacon Hill park now being searched…Lakewood PD chief scheduled to hold news conference…livestream here…Chief Brett Farrar near tears, says talking to victims’ families was “hardest thing I’ve ever had to do and I hope I never have to do it again”…says he and his fellow police officers “will be there to do our jobs for the citizens of Lakewood”…On police scanner, SPD still searching for fugitive Clemmons…


Huckabee’s Willie Horton II?

A deadly ambush at a coffee shop near Tacoma, Washington on Sunday morning left four police officers dead. A vigil attended by an estimated 700 mourners and well-wishers was held Sunday night for the fallen at Champion’s Center church in Tacoma. Read about the lives, loves, and dedication to service of the fallen officers here.

The Lakewood Police Independent Guild profiles their fallen colleagues here Officer Griswold was a passionate Tea Party activist. Officer Richards was a drummer. They were parents working hard for their kids’ future and dedicated officers protecting and serving:

Tina was our conservative friend. She was excited to be a part of the Olympia Tea Parties and proudly stated why she got involved in politics over the past year. Tina was sharp too, only a couple mornings ago we had a great discussion on the future of our Republic and how we felt true limited government conservatives should take back out political party. If you wanted any details over the massive government spending she would have them for you. If anyone thinks these comments are off color then you did not know Tina well. She would tell you where you could go and like Mark you always knew where you stood with her. She was the toughest little cop I have ever known. Tina has two children and a husband who loves her deeply. My gut hurts that I missed your Halloween party this year. Your memory and strength will help guide our movement to retake our party, this I promise you.

Greg Richards was the drummer in a rock band you would never know was a drummer in a rock band. Greg was a great cop who cared about one thing above all else, his family. He was a proud dad to three kids and wanted nothing more than to spend all of his time off with his wife and kids. Greg and I spent some one on one time together recently at an overtime assignment where he talked mostly about his family, he was obviously so proud. I will always remember this summer when you and your band rocked the house for our member with all proceeds going to charity when he was in the hospital. Yantzerpaloza will take on new meaning for us in the coming years. For someone who does not have much hair, you helped me put it down for a night.

As our Department weeps we know our brothers and sisters are in a place where people don’t come in a calm place and take your life because of the shield you wear or the basic oath we took. This will never make sense to us, it can’t. There will never be an explanation that works that will heal us. We can simply hope to take this senseless act of evil and turn it around to motivate our other officers, elected officials, and our entire community to keep make sure these parolees stay in prison and our communities stay safe.

Officer Tina Griswold’s sister pays tribute.

The man being sought by police was granted clemency by former GOP Arkansas Mike Huckabee despite his violent history and vehement protestations from prosecutors and victims’ family members.

He was most recently in jail for alleged second-degree rape of a child.

This isn’t Huckabee’s first Horton moment, as I’ll remind you in a moment.

Keep the officers and their loved ones in your prayers tonight. The monstrous details, via the Seattle Times.

Maurice Clemmons, the 37-year-old Tacoma man being sought for questioning in the killing of four Lakewood police officers this morning, has a long criminal record punctuated by violence, erratic behavior and concerns about his mental health.

Nine years ago, then-Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee granted clemency to Clemmons, commuting his lengthy prison sentence over the protestations of prosecutors.

“This is the day I’ve been dreading for a long time,” Larry Jegley, prosecuting attorney for Arkansas’ Pulaski County said Sunday night when informed that Clemmons was being sought in connection to the killings.

Clemmons’ criminal history includes at least five felony convictions in Arkansas and at least eight felony charges in Washington. The record also stands out for the number of times he has been released from custody despite questions about the danger he posed.

Clemmons had been in jail in Pierce County for the past several months on a pending charge of second-degree rape of a child.

He was released from custody just six days ago, even though he was wanted on a fugitive warrant out of Arkansas and was staring at eight felony charges in all out of Washington state.

Clemmons posted $15,000 with a Chehalis company called Jail Sucks Bail Bonds. The bondsman, in turn, put up $150,000, securing Clemmons’ release on the pending child-rape charge.

Clemmons lives in Tacoma, where he has run a landscaping and power-washing business out of his house, according to a police interview with his wife earlier this year.

He was married, but the relationship was tumultuous, with accounts of his unpredictable behavior leading to at least two confrontations with police earlier this year.

During the confrontation in May, Clemmons punched a sheriff’s deputy in the face, according to court records. As part of that incident, he was charged with seven counts of assault and malicious mischief.

In another instance, Clemmons was accused of gathering his wife and young relatives around at 3 or 4 in the morning and having them all undress.

A chilling flashback to 2004 from the Arkansas Leader:

Several prosecutors around the state are upset with Gov. Huckabee for grant- ing clemency to violent criminals, but he is blaming the prosecutors for often not seeking the maximum penalty and keeping felons locked up longer.

Until now, Huckabee has refused to comment on his controversial policy of making violent prisoners eligible for parole– they include murderers, armed robbers and rapists, who often return to a life of crime after they’re freed – but in a statement to The Leader this week, he lashed out at prosecutors for not doing more to keep prisoners behind bars – to which Pulaski County Prosecuting Attor-ney

Larry Jegley had this response: “That’s a load of baloney.”

“I’m offended as a prosecutor and as a citizen. He can blame the prosecutors, but ultimately he’s the man responsible,” Jegley says. “He’s the only one who can sign on the dotted line.

…_ In addition, Jegley, Saline County Prosecuting Attorney Robert Herzfeld and others have accused Huckabee of violating the state Constitution when he commutes sentences without explanation. The Constitution requires the governor to give reasons why he grants clemency to criminals.

“He doesn’t do it,” insists Herzfeld, who recently had a clemency overturned because Huckabee did not explain why he commuted a murderer’s life sentence.

Jegley cites numerous examples of Huckabee’s freeing felons who go on committing more crimes and wind up back in prison.

Maurice Clemmons received a 35-year sentence in the early 1990s for armed robbery and theft. His sentence was commuted in May 2000, and he was let out three months later.

The following March, Clemmons committed two armed robberies and other crimes and was sentenced to 10 years. You’d think they’d keep him locked up after that, but no: He was paroled last March and is now wanted for aggravated robbery.

If Huckabee decides to set these criminals free, Jegley says, at least “he ought to give an accounting. I can’t imagine why in the world they’d want them released from jail. There’s a good reason we’re afraid of them. The sad truth is that a significant number of people re-offend.”

The victims’ families, Jegley says, “deserve an explanation. I look into people’s eyes who’ve suffered the unspeakable. I believe they deserve justice.

Via the Arkansas Times blog, here’s a 1998 court document from Arkansas detailing some of Clemmons’ criminal history and courtroom threats — including hiding a hinge in his sock that he intended to use as a weapon against a judge and extracting a lock from a jail cell that he threw at his mother during court proceedings:

The circuit court made its foregoing findings and decision to grant postconviction relief based on pretrial events that occurred at Clemmons’s burglary and theft trial held before Judge Floyd Lofton. Clemmons’s defense counsel, Llewellyn J. Marczuk, testifying at the postconviction hearing, related that, at the earlier trial, a security guard had reported to Judge Lofton that Clemmons had taken a hinge from one of the courtroom doors, hid it in his sock, and intended to use it as a weapon. The hinge was found and taken from him before he harmed anyone. In another incident, Clemmons extracted a lock from a holding cell, and he later threw the lock which hit his mother. During this second episode, Clemmons purportedly threatened Judge Lofton. In a third incident, Clemmons reportedly reached for a guard’s pistol during his transportation to the courtroom. Based on these occurrences, Judge Lofton placed Clemmons in leg irons and seated a uniformed officer near him during trial. This court upheld Judge Lofton’s remedial actions in Clemmons. 303 Ark. at 267-269, 795 S.W.2d at 928-929.

This disaster is just one of Huckabee’s ill-considered clemency legacies.

Remember Wayne Dumond?

Again, via the Arkansas Times circa 2005 — a closer look at how Huckabee tried to evade responsibility for setting a convicted rapist free…only to rape again:

Editor’s note, Sept. 1, 2005: Wayne Dumond, convicted of rape in Arkansas and murder in Missouri, died of apparent natural causes in prison Tuesday.

The occasion prompts us to republish Murray Waas’ prize-winning article for the Arkansas Times in 2002 about the extraordinary steps Gov. Mike Huckabee took to help win Dumond’s freedom. He has since blamed others for Dumond’s release to kill again, but his actions over many years demonstrated his support for Dumond and, ultimately, the instrumental role he played in the parole board’s decision to free him.

…New sources, including an advisor to Gov. Mike Huckabee, have told the Arkansas Times that Huckabee and a senior member of his staff exerted behind-the-scenes influence to bring about the parole of rapist Wayne Dumond, who Missouri authorities say raped and killed a woman there shortly after his parole.

Huckabee has denied a role in Dumond’s release, which has become an issue in his race for re-election against Democrat Jimmie Lou Fisher. Fisher says Huckabee’s advocacy of Dumond’s freedom, plus other acts of executive clemency, exhibit poor judgment. In response, Huckabee has shifted responsibility for Dumond’s release to others, claiming former Gov. Jim Guy Tucker made Dumond eligible for parole and saying the Post Prison Transfer Board made the decision on its own to free Dumond.

But the Times’ new reporting shows the extent to which Huckabee and a key aide were involved in the process to win Dumond’s release. It was a process marked by deviation from accepted parole practice and direct personal lobbying by the governor, in an apparently illegal and unrecorded closed-door meeting with the parole board (the informal name by which the Post Prison Transfer Board is known).

After Huckabee told the board, in executive session, that he believed Dumond got a “raw deal,” according to a board member who was there, and supported his release, board chairman Leroy Brownlee personally paved the way for Dumond’s release, according to board records and former members. During that time — from December 1996 to January 1997 — Brownlee regularly consulted with Butch Reeves, the governor’s prison liaison, on the status of his efforts, two state officials have told the Times.

…• Dumond was transferred to the Tucker unit in December 1996, after his request for rehearing. Had he stayed at Varner, he could not have been scheduled for a new hearing before Jan. 20, 1997, Huckabee’s deadline to act on his announcement that he was considering commuting Dumond’s sentence. His transfer — which the Department of Corrections has explained in conflicting ways — allowed him to get on the Tucker hearing schedule, which let the board parole Dumond before Huckabee’s deadline — and thus take the heat for his release.

When the board paroled Dumond in January 1997, he had been in prison since 1985 for the rape of Ashley Stevens, a Forrest City high school student. The board made Dumond’s parole conditional upon his moving out of state, but initially authorities in Florida, Texas, and other states declined to allow him to move there. Dumond was finally released in October 1999, when he moved to DeWitt to live with his stepmother.

In August 2000, Dumond moved to Smithville, Mo., a rural community outside Kansas City. He had married a woman from the community who was active in a church group that had visited Dumond in prison and believed him to be innocent.

Only six weeks after Dumond moved to Missouri, Carol Sue Shields, of Parkville, Mo., was found murdered in a friend’s home. She had been sexually assaulted and suffocated.

In late June 2001, Missouri authorities charged Dumond with the first-degree murder of Shields. The Clay County, Mo., prosecutor’s office asserted that skin found under Shield’s fingernails, the result of an apparent struggle with her murderer, contained DNA that matched Dumond’s.

Missouri authorities also say that Dumond is the leading suspect in the rape and murder of a second woman, Sara Andrasek, of Platte County, Mo., though he has not yet been charged with that crime.

Andrasek was 23. Like Shields, Andrasek had her brassiere cut from her body; Dumond cut Stevens’ bra off before he raped her.

“It’s as if he wanted to leave us his calling card,” a Missouri law enforcement officer said.

***

The Other McCain has details on how to contribute to the slain officers’ memorial fund.

The Lakewood massacre comes on the heels of another fatal police officer shooting in the Pacific Northwest:

The shock, anger and heartbreak unleashed by the shooting deaths of four Lakewood police officers on Sunday came less than a month after the execution of a Seattle police officer.

Police say the suspect in the previous shooting wanted to kill as many members of law enforcement as possible.

It was a Halloween night ambush. Seattle Police Officer Timothy Brenton and Officer Britt Sweeney were sitting in a patrol car following a traffic stop when a car pulled up next to the cruiser and opened fire.

Brenton died instantly. Sweeney was injured, but survived.

The key clue came from a dashboard camera, which yielded a grainy photo of a Datsun 210.

The crime scene became a place for people to grieve, comfort each other and remember a man known as a dedicated police officer, a husband and a father of two children.

On Nov. 6, as thousands gathered at Key Arena for an emotional tribute to Brenton, police converged on a Tukwila apartment complex where the sought Datsun was found under a tarp in the parking lot.

Police confronted suspected gunman, 41-year-old Christopher Monfort. When he tried to open fire, police said they shot and wounded him.

Inside Monfort’s apartment, police found guns, bombs, booby traps and ammunition.

“His arsenal of weapons suggested both that he was ready to continue his attacks, and that he was preparing to make a final armed stand should he be discovered,” said King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg.

***

Huck PAC posts a statement on the Lakewood PD massacre (h/t Allahpundit). Note the passive language and blame-shifting to prosecutors with no explicit mention of Huckabee’s role in granting clemency over the objections of prosecutors:

…Should he be found to be responsible for this horrible tragedy, it will be the result of a series of failures in the criminal justice system in both Arkansas and Washington State. He was recommended for and received a commutation of his original sentence from 1990, making him parole eligible and was paroled by the parole board once they determined he met the conditions at that time. He was arrested later for parole violation and taken back to prison to serve his full term, but prosecutors dropped the charges that would have held him. It appears that he has continued to have a string of criminal and psychotic behavior but was not kept incarcerated by either state.

Update: Seattle Times reported late Sunday night that a home tied to the Clemmons’ family had been surrounded by SWAT and law enforcement.

Update: 11:20am Eastern. Dear Lord. Clemmons is NOT in the home. Area college students and workers, residents, have been warned.

Update 2:00pm Eastern. The Seattle Times has Clemmons’ clemency docs, which detail how he played the Christian card to win his commutation.

Update 3:56pm Eastern.New thread on police search here.

Make sure you watch the video flashback on Huckabee and clemency via Allahpundit. Devastating.

And a few more background links to brush up on before Huckabee’s Fox News appearance tonight:

December 2007…

Prosecutors say Huckabee was more inclined to release or reduce the sentences of prisoners if he had direct contact with them or was lobbied by those close to him.

Some inmates who benefited from some sort of personal connection:

—James Maxwell, who killed a pastor of the Church of God in Arkansas. Maxwell worked at the Governor’s Mansion when Huckabee announced his intent to reduce his prison sentence.

—Samuel W. Taylor, convicted on a drug charge. A prosecutor said the man had told him Taylor’s sister had gone to school with Huckabee. Huckabee said the sister didn’t influence the decision. Taylor subsequently was arrested on another drug charge.

—Donald W. Clark, convicted of theft. Huckabee’s pastor recommended leniency for Clark, whose stepmother worked on Huckabee’s gubernatorial staff.

—Robert A. Arnold Jr., who was convicted of killing his father-in-law. Arnold’s father, a former mayor of Hope, Huckabee’s hometown, said he was a casual friend of the governor.

—A pastor who promoted Huckabee among blacks urged the governor to grant clemency to John Henry Claiborne, who was sentenced to 100 years for a 1994 armed robbery, according to a 2004 report in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. Huckabee made Claiborne eligible for parole after receiving a letter from the Rev. Charles Williams, who told the newspaper he had helped win “many, many” clemencies from Huckabee.

—Denver Witham, convicted of beating a man to death with a lead pipe at bar, had his sentence commuted by Huckabee. The action drew the ire of prosecutors who speculated that Huckabee’s act of clemency was related to Witham, who was lead singer in a prison band, being a fellow musician.

Huckabee has repeatedly faced criticism from prosecutors over his clemency policies. And in 2002, Ashley Stevens, the 1984 rape victim, joined Angela McCoy, the daughter of the Rev. Billy Price Bennett who was shot to death in 1979 by James Maxwell, to campaign against Huckabee’s re-election.

“I just thought that the power of executive clemency was being exercised on the wrong folks,” said Pulaski County Prosecutor Larry Jegley, a Democrat who also campaigned against Huckabee.

As for DuMond, the convicted rapist initially was sentenced to life plus 20 years for his conviction in the 1984 rape of Stevens when she was a teenager, but Tucker reduced the sentence to 39 1/2 years, making DuMond eligible for parole.

While Huckabee told reporters last week that DuMond’s file was waiting for him when he took office, his interest in the case started two years earlier after he met with DuMond’s wife, Dusty. When he took office, she contacted Huckabee again. “He said if he was ever in a position to look into it he would try to remember it,” said Dusty DuMond in a 1996 interview with The Associated Press.

Stevens met with Huckabee and his staff in 1996 to discuss his intent to grant clemency.

“I could tell he had already made up his mind,” Stevens told the AP last week.

Huckabee argues that it was Tucker’s decision to reduce DuMond’s sentence that made him eligible for parole, and he maintains he had little — if any — role in his release. Still, Huckabee had publicly questioned DuMond’s guilt and met privately with the state parole board.

And from the invaluable Arkansas Leader circa 2004:

If you’re wondering how Gov. Huckabee’s hundreds of clemencies compare with neighboring states, get ready for a shocker. Huckabee leads the pack. He has issued more commutations and pardons than all of the six neighboring states combined.

Governors seldom reduce sentences in other states – and almost never for murderers serving life without parole or for rapists or for habitual drunk drivers, while in Arkansas it’s a regular habit with Huckabee.

Other governors use their clemency power only rarely, while Huckabee has made it routine. As we’ve told you before, he has issued more than 700 pardons and commutations during his eight years in office – more than 137 this year alone – and more than his three predecessors combined.

Here are the figures for neighboring states since 1996, when Huckabee took office (and keep in mind the population of these states is nearly 20 times ours):

___ >> Louisiana – 213.
___ >> Mississippi – 24.
___ >> Missouri – 79.
___ >> Oklahoma – 178.
___ >> Tennessee – 32.
___ >> Texas – 98 (in-cludes 36 inmates released because they were convicted on drug charges with planted evidence).

Total: 624 vs. Huckabee’s 703.

Governors in neighboring states almost never grant killers clemency, while Huckabee has commuted the sentences of a dozen murderers.

***

Update 11/30 8:42pm Eastern. Huckabee got softball treatment on O’Reilly. He blamed other prosecutors and judges while downplaying his ill-considered judgment. There was no discussion of Huck’s long, controversial record on mass clemencies that resulted in more innocent victims of brutal crimes. And O’Reilly unbelievably praised Huckabee for his openness in explaning clemency decisions — which should cause the entire state of Arkansas to shake in derisive laughter and revulsion given the former GOP governor’s stubborn refusal to explain his decisions until forced to so by a massive public backlash.

You can watch the brief interview here.

Missing: Any mention of the blood-boiling Wayne Dumond clemency, the statistics cited above on Huck’s reckless clemency mania, and Huck’s direct role in granting clemencies when lobbied by pastor friends who knew which buttons to push.

Update 12/1 8am Eastern. Clemmons is dead. Family members who aided and abetted him may likely be charged. His enablers, as we have seen, are many.

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