Former Arkansas governor/GOP presidential candidate Mike Huckabee might have made a huge mistake when he commuted Maurice Clemmons' 60-year prison sentence nine years ago: Now, Clemmons is wanted for questioning in the horrific shooting of four Washington State police officers.
This morning, a man walked into a coffee shop in Lakewood, Washington and opened fire, killing four police officers in what officials are calling an "execution-style" shooting. Now police are looking to question 37 year-old Maurice Clemmons, who the Seattle Times reports has had a long criminal history. It started in 1990, when Clemmons was sentenced to 60 years in prison in Arkansas for burglary and theft of property:
When Clemmons received the 60-year sentence, he was already serving 48 years on five felony convictions and facing up to 95 more years on charges of robbery, theft of property and possessing a handgun on school property. Records from Clemmons' sentencing described him as 5-foot-7 and 108 pounds. The crimes were committed when he was 17.
Clemmons served 11 years before being released.
News accounts say Huckabee commuted Clemmons' sentence, citing Clemmons' young age at the time the crimes were committed.
After Huckabee freed Clemmons it was all downhill: According to the Seattle Times report, Clemmons racked up eight felony charges after moving to Washington—the most recent being second-degree rape of a child, for which he had been in jail pending a trial for the past few months. Clemmons was released from jail six days ago after posting his $150,000 bail with help from a company called Jail Sucks Bail Bonds.
Then he might have gunned down four police officers this morning:
Sgt. Mark Renninger, Officers Ronald Owens, Tina Griswold and Greg Richards.
As Arkansas Governor, Huckabee had a long record of pardoning criminals—including murders and rapists: HuffPo reports that "between 1996 and 2004, Huckabee helped to free more Arkansas prisoners than were freed from all of Arkansas' six neighboring states."
After Clemmons—who is still at large—is found and questioned, after the vigils are finished and all the facts are in (probably before that, actually), we can look forward to a long public debate about kids in jail and the limits of mercy.