Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Commutation in the Bluegrass

On his last day in office Gov. Ernie Fletcher commuted or pardoned over 80 Kentuckians. One of those persons was Jeffrey Devan Leonard. The Courier-Journal notes:

Fletcher reduced to life without parole the death sentence given Jeffrey Devan Leonard, also known as James Earl Slaughter, who was convicted of fatally stabbing Louisville store clerk Esther Stewart in 1983.

Leonard’s case has been controversial in part because his trial lawyer, Louisville attorney Fred Radolovich, was disbarred and indicted on a perjury charge for claiming he had handled four death-penalty cases before Leonard’s.

In fact, he had no experience as a lead attorney in a capital case and surrendered his law license earlier this year in a deal with prosecutors that ended the perjury case.

Ernie Lewis, executive director of the Department of Public Advocacy, said in a statement last night that Leonard “was a young, poor, brain-damaged African-American man with no criminal history and about whom the jury was told nothing when they decided that he should die.”

Leonard had exhausted his appeals and was in line to have an execution date set.

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