Governor Greitens commuted sentences and issued pardons for several Missourians Friday.
The Governor released the following statement:
The ability to make wrong things right, for Missourians who have not gotten fair treatment from our criminal justice system, is one of the most solemn and precious abilities of a Governor. I believe in justice, and I believe that with these actions today—justice will be done.
Greitens issued five pardons and commuted four sentences.
Jessie McKim is currently serving a life sentence, without the possibility of parole. He has been in prison for 20 years on a murder conviction. However, since then, six experts have concluded that the cause of death identified at the time was completely wrong, stated Grietens.
"Time and truth go hand in hand. It breaks my heart to know that Jessie, and others like him, served a day in prison for now-discredited accusations. We cannot undo what has been done. We cannot give him back that time. What we can do, is give him a chance to start again," Grietens said.
Alvis Williams was convicted of burglary for stealing a Sony Walkman, VCR, and other electronics. Williams was sentenced to 80 years in prison for a burglary. Williams has already served 23 years. The prosecutor hoped, at most, to send him away for 20 years. Williams was sentenced to 80. That is 60 years longer than the prosecutor asked for, and 70 years longer than he could possibly be sentenced today, stated Greitens.
Stacey Lannert was pardoned Friday. Lannert served 18 years in prison for killing her father, a father who abused and raped her constantly for years and kept her silent under threat of death. When Lannert, still a teenager, discovered her father raping her younger sister, she grabbed her father’s gun and shot him dead. Since that day, Lannert has committed her life to serving others. Her sentence was commuted in 2009. She is a public defender. She has been an incredible resource to our team as we have worked in office to determine other Missourians who may deserve grace. She didn’t ask us for a pardon before we decided to issue one, but there is no one more deserving, Grietens stated.
Rodney Lincoln‘s sentence was commuted to time served Friday. Grietens stated Lincoln was wrongly convicted of capital murder and has served 34 years in prison for a crime he did not commit. DNA evidence and one eyewitness were used to convict him. Now, we know the DNA evidence was wrong and the eyewitness the daughter of the victim says he is innocent and wants him to be free.
Verdia Miller‘s sentence commuted to time served Friday. Grietens stated Miller has served 35 years for a murder that she did not commit or participate in. She is now 75 years old and had 15 years remaining on her sentence.
Judy Henderson’s sentence was commuted by Greitens in December 2017. Friday Henderson was pardoned. Grietens stated Henderson was sentenced to life in prison for her role in a robbery-turned-murder. Henderson’s boyfriend, the man who committed the robbery, killed someone and shot Henderson herself in the process went free. She could have been out of prison decades ago if her lawyers had not lied to her about the offer of a plea deal.
Mark Whittle was pardoned Friday, Greitens stated that Whittle has been an exemplary public servant, even receiving the honor of Department of Mental Health Employee of the Year in 2009. He has a clean record since he successfully completed probation for a DWI offense in 1996.
Gary Thomas was pardoned. Grietens stated Thomas is a former Marine whose only brush with the law is a fistfight in 2008. His record since then has been flawless.
Betty Coleman’s sentence was commuted by Governor Holden in 2004. Friday Coleman was pardoned. Greitens stated, Coleman served 27 years in prison because her abusive boyfriend murdered someone, and she unknowingly and inadvertently played a role in the incident.