Democratic Senate hopeful John Fetterman said on Tuesday he had “always” supported life sentences for first-degree murderers. But as chairman of the Pennsylvania Board of Pardons, Fetterman has voted to free more than a dozen killers serving life sentences for first-degree murder, including a man who pleaded guilty to avoid the death penalty.
In an interview with PennLive’s Editorial Board, Fetterman said Republicans are “lying” about his record on the Board of Pardons, which he oversees as lieutenant governor. Fetterman, who has challenged Republican claims he wants to free murderers from prison, said he supports clemency for some second-degree murder convicts — people who ‘didn’t kill’ — but he “absolutely” supported life sentences for first degree murder.
“It’s clear. I’ve always said that,” Fetterman told the editorial board.
It’s part of a pattern for Fetterman, who has repeatedly stressed his support for ending Pennsylvania’s mandatory minimum life sentences for those convicted of second-degree murder. He said clemency should be given to those who “did not pull the trigger” but were instead complicit in murder.
But one Free Washington Beacon An analysis found the Democrat voted to commute the prison sentences of at least 13 people convicted of first-degree murder, some of whom admitted to their crimes. Such was the case last year when Fetterman cast the only vote in the Board of Pardons to commute the sentence of Wayne Covington, who was convicted in 1970 of fatally shooting an 18-year-old for money to buy heroin. Covington was sentenced to life in prison for first-degree murder after admitting to the murder in order to avoid the death penalty, the Free tag reported.
Fetterman’s latest defense comes as Republicans hammer him on his progressive stances and leadership of the Board of Pardons. Fetterman said he was seeking the role of lieutenant governor in order to use the Pardons Board as a “bullying pulpit” to enact progressive criminal justice reform. He bragged that the council under his leadership voted to release more prisoners than all of his predecessors combined. He has also hired left-wing activists to sit on the board, including a former campaign official who has called for “disarming the police” and says convicted cop killer Mumia Abu-Jamal is his “buddy”.
The Republican onslaught appears to have reduced Fetterman’s lead over his challenger, Mehmet Oz. Fetterman led the celebrity doctor by 11 points in August, but the lead fell to just 4 points amid a flurry of ads in Pennsylvania highlighting Fetterman’s board votes and his other positions. of criminal justice.
In some cases, Fetterman voted unanimously with the five-member Board of Pardons to grant clemency to first-degree murderers. In Pennsylvania, all five members of the council must vote for clemency for a prisoner to be freed. According FoxNews, Fetterman voted to free 10 first-degree murderers who were granted clemency. This includes Charles Goldblum, who was convicted in 1977 of stabbing a man to death 26 times with garden shears in a Pittsburgh parking lot. Goldblum attempted to hire a hitman to kill his accomplice in the murder, the Free tag reported. Fetterman said when Goldblum was released from prison last year that he was “happy” the convict was returning home to his family. Fetterman also incorrectly claimed that Goldblum was serving a sentence for second-degree murder, instead of the most serious charge.
In at least three other cases, Fetterman cast the only vote on the board to free first-degree murderers, often beyond the wishes of their victims’ families. In addition to the Covington case, Fetterman also voted to free Alexis Rodriguez and John David Brookins, who are serving life sentences for first-degree murder. Rodriguez was convicted along with four others of the 1989 murder of a police officer’s son. Brookins is serving time for stabbing his girlfriend’s mother to death with a pair of scissors in 1990, Fox News reported.
Fetterman’s campaign did not respond to a request for comment.