Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. and Democratic Senate candidate John Fetterman has helped release at least 10 convicts serving life sentences for first-degree murder.
Fetterman, who chairs the Pennsylvania Board of Pardons, often talks about wanting to put an end to state law that requires mandatory life sentences without parole for those convicted of second-degree murder, but his voting record on the board shows he has successfully supported the release of at least 10 people who were convicted of taking a life.
In April, Fetterman voted along with the rest of the board to release Felix Rosado, fulfilling the unanimous vote requirement to recommend clemency to the governor. Rosado was serving a life sentence after pleading guilty to shooting a man to death in 1995. On July 14, Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf granted Rosado’s request for clemency, releasing him from prison.
In December, Fetterman voted to release Edward Silvis, who was convicted of first-degree murder in the 1969 killing of an elderly woman during an attempted robbery in her home. Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf granted Silvis’ request for clemency on Feb. 15.
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In March 2021, Fetterman voted to release James Inge, who was convicted of first-degree murder and robbery in 1974 and sentenced to life, and Irvin Moore, who was serving a life sentence after being convicted of fatally shooting a man in his Philadelphia home in 1969. Wolf granted clemency to both men on March 25, 2021.
In September 2020, Fetterman voted to release Daniel Cummings, Mildred Strickland and Gregory Stover, who were all granted clemency by Wolf on Feb. 11, 2021.
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Cummings was convicted of first-degree murder in 1973 for fatally shooting a Philadelphia man inside his home. Strickland was convicted of first-degree murder for stabbing her boyfriend to death in 1985. Stover was sentenced to life in connection to the murder of a Mount Airy man, whose body was found with multiple gunshots in the back of the head and with his hands and feet bound, Philadelphia police said at the time.
In 2019, Fetterman voted to release Freddy Butler, Charlie Goldblum and Raymond Johnson, who were all granted clemency by the governor.
Butler was accused of stabbing and beating a 72-year-old man to death in the street and was sentenced to life in prison in 1970. Goldblum was convicted of stabbing a man to death in a Pittsburgh parking garage in 1977. Johnson was sentenced to life in prison after he was convicted of first-degree murder in the 1973 shooting and fatal stabbing of a Pittsburgh man.
Fetterman hasn’t always been successful in pushing for the release of first-degree murderers.
Last year, he cast the lone vote in a failed bid to free Alexis Rodriguez, who is serving a life sentence in Dallas after he was one of five suspects convicted for beating a police officer’s 17-year-old son with a baseball bat before fatally shooting him in 1989.
He also cast the lone vote last year in a failed bid to commute the sentence of John David Brookins, who was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison for the 1990 killing of his girlfriend’s mother, who was found with a pair of large scissors lodged in her chest.
Fetterman’s campaign has repeatedly defended the lieutenant governor’s approach to clemency cases, saying his record on the Board of Pardons has been “widely praised by Democrats and Republicans alike.”
Campaign spokesman Joe Calvello repeated that statement again when reached by Fox News Digital on Tuesday, saying, “John saved taxpayer money and took a fair-minded approach to every case he considered, voting to deny hundreds of pardon and commutation cases while also siding with law enforcement experts nearly 90% of the time.”
The campaign pointed to comments made by Montgomery County, Pa., Sheriff Sean Kilkenny in a recent Fetterman ad rebutting claims by the lieutenant governor’s Republican opponent, Mehmet Oz, that he is soft on crime.
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“John gave a second chance to those who deserved it. Nonviolent offenders, marijuana users,” Kilkenny says in the ad. “He voted with law enforcement experts nearly 90 percent of the time. He reunited families and protected our freedom. And he saved taxpayer money. John Fetterman has the courage to do what’s right. Dr. Oz doesn’t know a thing about crime, he only knows how to help himself.”
The campaign also noted a new Monmouth University survey among voters in Pennsylvania that found the majority of voters trust Fetterman over Oz to best handle every issue of top concern, including abortion, the economy, crime and immigration.