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Fault Lines

Suspected cop-killer Maurice Clemmons is dead. Who is to blame for releasing him from prison?

Fault Lines
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A TIMELINE OF MAURICE CLEMMONS 1989-November 23, 2009
A TIMELINE OF MAURICE CLEMMONS November 29-December 1, 2009.

Maurice Clemmons would have been the first to say that a man needs to be held accountable for his actions.

"There is absolutely no excuse/justification for my past criminal behavior," he wrote 10 years ago in a clemency application to then–Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, pleading for "mercy" regarding the 108-year sentence he was serving at the time for two robberies and other crimes he'd committed when he was 16.

This was back when Clemmons was purportedly a God-fearing man. Back before he allegedly came to believe, sometime this summer, that he himself was God—Jesus Christ, to be exact, with an ability to fly. ("He reportedly thinks he can fly away and at one point was found in the backyard jumping," says a Pierce County police report from July.) It was back before authorities suspected Clemmons of shooting four Lakewood police officers at a coffee shop on November 29, execution-style, in the worst police killing in Washington State history. Before Clemmons was the subject of a sprawling, chaotic, nearly two-day-long manhunt that consumed SWAT teams and patrol officers all over Seattle and the surrounding region. Before several of Clemmons's family members and friends were rounded up and accused of helping him elude authorities. Before the manhunt finally ended, in the early morning hours of December 1, with Clemmons being shot dead by a lone Seattle officer on patrol in Rainier Valley.

In that old plea to Huckabee, Clemmons cast himself as a young man who had been raised in "a good Christian family," made the mistake of falling in with a bad crowd when he moved to Arkansas from Seattle as a teenager, and received an excessively harsh sentence for his youthful errors—a man who now found himself sitting in prison lamenting that he'd "never done anything good for God" and sincerely wanted a chance to make "a brand-new start."

Huckabee believed him. The Republican governor—who went on to run for president in 2008 and remains a potential 2012 presidential contender—offered clemency to Clemmons in May of 2000, setting him on the path to parole and, Huckabee hoped, a life redeemed by executive leniency.

It wasn't unusual for Huckabee to do this; during his time in office, he granted more than 1,000 clemencies—more than twice as many as the three previous Arkansas governors combined. But almost immediately after Huckabee granted this clemency, Clemmons violated his parole and was sent back to an Arkansas jail for involvement in a robbery.

He was paroled again in 2003, and this time was allowed to move to Washington, where he ran a landscaping business near Tacoma and lived a life free of major run-ins with the law until this summer—when, according to allegations in court records and recent police statements, he began a steep slide into criminal violence, throwing rocks at neighbors and their property, punching a sheriff's deputy in the face, raping a 12-year-old girl, and, finally, on November 29, shooting four police officers at Lakewood's Forza Coffee, near his home.

Two days later, at around 2:45 a.m., a Seattle police officer happened upon Clemmons while checking out an unoccupied stolen car in South Seattle. Authorities say Clemmons snuck up behind the cop, carrying a gun he'd stolen from one of the officers he'd killed two days earlier, and, after being spotted, refused commands to surrender.

The hunt for Clemmons is now over, but a huge question—as important to the local criminal-justice and mental-health systems as it is to the political future of Huckabee—remains: Who is responsible for the destruction wreaked by Clemmons this year?

Naturally, everyone involved is pointing in a different direction.

If you ask Huckabee, the responsibility lies with "a series of failures in the criminal-justice system in both Arkansas and Washington State." If you ask Fox News' Bill O'Reilly, who on November 30 gently interviewed Huckabee (who is also working as a Fox News commentator these days), the responsibility falls on two Washington judges who earlier this month allowed Clemmons to be released on $190,000 bail (not, as O'Reilly falsely said on air, $15,000 bail).

"They will be held accountable," O'Reilly said of the judges. "It's not your fault, Governor."

If you were able to ask Clemmons's Federal Way lawyer, Daniel Murphy, you would presumably hear that blame lies with his client's temporary insanity. Murphy, reached by phone, declined to talk to The Stranger, but court records show that on July 30, he informed a Pierce County superior court judge that Clemmons intended to plead not guilty to the child rape and assault charges "by reason of insanity and/or temporarily experiencing diminished capacity at the time of the offense."

If you ask psychiatrists at Western State Hospital, who earlier this year were tasked by the court with evaluating Clemmons's competency to stand trial, it all might just have been a result of the normal difficulties of life. According to their October 19 report, first obtained by the Tacoma News Tribune and later described in further detail by the Seattle Times, Clemmons said that around the time of his alleged child rape and officer assault in early May, he had been having visions of "people drinking blood and people eating babies." But when the Western State psychiatrists interviewed Clemmons in October, they saw "no evidence of disturbance," deemed him competent to stand trial, and had no formal diagnosis for him "other than stress," as the Seattle Times put it.

If you ask people close to Clemmons, it would probably all come back to the fact that in May he suddenly appeared to be "having a mental breakdown" and going "crazy" and was clearly "not in his right mind," according to statements his family members and friends made in police reports at the time.

If you ask some local law-enforcement officials, responsibility lies with Arkansas authorities, who on July 22 dropped a "no-bail warrant" that could have prevented Clemmons from being released on bail just days before the November 29 cop killings.

Clearly, there was no shortage of human and systemic failures that ultimately allowed Clemmons to go free when he should have been locked up. Consider this simple distillation: A man set free nearly 10 years ago by Huckabee, dragging around a criminal record dating back to his teenage years, had appeared in a Pierce County court in July and announced that he intended to claim he'd been out of his mind when he raped a young girl and assaulted a police officer in May. After which, two Western State psychiatrists—despite their inability to see any signs of disturbance in this man in October—said he represented an "increased risk for future dangerous behavior and for committing future criminal acts." Nevertheless, he was released on bail, and soon thereafter allegedly wandered into a coffee shop and began firing off rounds at four police officers.

But beneath all the failure-exposing and blame-shuffling are more difficult, ultimately unanswerable questions. Was Clemmons a fundamentally decent man who made some childhood mistakes, had the book thrown at him for them, received a generous second chance from Huckabee, and did the best he could with it until, in his 37th year of life, he suddenly snapped? Or was Clemmons always closer to being "the Beast," as he reportedly described himself this summer, a dark-hearted manipulator benefiting from criminal assistance by his friends and family, and running an extremely long con that variously tricked Huckabee, his own lawyer, and multiple Washington State officials into repeatedly promoting his reentry into society? Or was he a combination of unstable psychic elements in need of smart psychiatric intervention that he simply never received?

The paradox of his death at the hands of the Seattle police officer is that, while the community may now feel safer, it will never know the answer—will never know for sure who it really was that was terrorizing them. recommended

 

Comments (73) RSS

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1
The important question about Mike Huckabee's role remains: "how did his personal Evangelical Christianity affect his judgment in this and similar matters?"

It has been written that his sense of Christian mercy made him significantly more generous with grants of clemency than most of his peers (especially other Republicans). But was his generosity applied indiscriminately, or limited to those who appealed to his specific religious biases?

Did a clemency request like Clemmons's, touting his "good Christian" influences, become a Get-Out-of-Jail-Free Card during Huckabee's tenure? And would a similar inmate, touting his upbringing as a "good Muslim" or desire to be a "good Secular Humanist," have received the same treatment from the state's Chief Executive?

This may not just be a simple error in judgment. It may be classic case of religious favoritism... with tragic results.
Posted by d.p. on December 1, 2009 at 6:06 PM · Report this
2
The former governor is no mere Fox common tater - he hosts his own show on Sundays at the five o'clock hour. Meanwhile, if Clemmons was still doing his 95 years, every crime he committed after parole would not have happened.
Posted by Loonesta on December 1, 2009 at 6:29 PM · Report this
3
No, but if he'd touted that he was a reformed black man who wanted to fight social injustice and oppression of people of color by white racists and cops (aka be typical cop-hating ghetto trash), all of Slog would have gotten down in their progressive knees to give this SOB a blow job.
Posted by Just another gangsta on December 1, 2009 at 6:32 PM · Report this
4
Yeah, I blame this in part because people in Arkansas was stupid enough to elect ordained minister as their governor.

Of course Mr. Huckabee decided to serve his lord's interest before interests of his constituents.

This is why I don't believe anybody associated with any organized religion on his level should not be elected to any government positions unless they are capable of separating their personal beliefs when serving as a public servant.

Besides that, what the hells wrong with our sentencing guidelines?
I've seen so many people put in jail for excessive amount of time for victimless crime while person like Clemmons keep on receiving lesser penalties.
It's about time our society take another look at our criminal justice system and overhaul sentencing guidelines.
It doesn't matter if we don't use what we have.
We need to use death penalty as needed instead of pre-bargins that let's most vicious criminals to live on our tax $$ for rest of their life.
I don't want to have a police state because I never really had pleasant encounters with them.
However, if we don't put some fear in to some of these criminals, we will see more freaks like him come out of the wood works.
Let's start with electing people that actually reflects what general public demands.
Posted by musashi on December 1, 2009 at 6:33 PM · Report this
5
I'm sorry, aren't you all the 'Free Mumia' fuckers?
Posted by Mumia is a gangsta! on December 1, 2009 at 6:34 PM · Report this
6
I guess the Huckabee angle might matter to the mainstream GOP (formerly known as the lunatic right.) As for the rest of us, we can safely concentrate on figuring out why the hell this guy wasn't in a Washington State detention facility of either the criminal or psychological kind.
Posted by dwight moody on December 1, 2009 at 6:42 PM · Report this
Pol Pot 7
I'm with PZ Meyers on this - Huckabee let his fundamentalism cloud his judgement.

http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2009/…
Posted by Pol Pot http://bottlefuelrag.blogspot.com on December 1, 2009 at 6:50 PM · Report this
8
Let me get this straight, Huckebee's crime is being soft on criminals and showing compassion towards black men?

I guess the Stranger has officially become the National Review.
Posted by Left is right, right is left on December 1, 2009 at 6:56 PM · Report this
9
@5... Actually, I'm a "Mumia probably did it but still deserves the fair trial he's never gotten" fucker.
Posted by d.p. on December 1, 2009 at 7:06 PM · Report this
10
Let's get this straight:

Huckabee pardons a man sentenced at 16 yrs old to a 90+ sentence a decade ago.

Liberal, NW judge releases 37 year old man who raped a 12 yr old and punched a cop this year with only a $15K bond (bond, not ail to all you morons out there).

Who do we blame?

"Mumia probably did it but still deserves the fair trial he's never gotten"

I'll play my small violin for him while he rots in jail.
Posted by Kevin Keagan on December 1, 2009 at 7:20 PM · Report this
11
@Kevin Keagan - please provide evidence to back up your claim that it was a $15K bond, not $190K bail as Eli writes in the story you commented on.
Posted by skyeschell http://www.tunnelfacts.com on December 1, 2009 at 7:36 PM · Report this
dnt trust me 12
God i hope this is the one and only time i venture deeper into your hypocrite-laden paper other than the proper Slog blog.

It's December. The time for year-end listmania!
Best Stranger Cover of the year has to be Mar 12-18. Love. At. First. Sight. when I saw it in the spring. Tight jeans, a rifle, logs, sandals. Hot! Hot! Hot!

I say time to reflect the world of news. More guns on your covers!!
Posted by dnt trust me on December 1, 2009 at 7:51 PM · Report this
13
"$15K bond, not $190K bail"

It was $150K bail which the bondsman only required a 10% payment from the defendant; something the judge would have been fully aware of.
Posted by Kevin Keagan on December 1, 2009 at 8:03 PM · Report this
matt 14
Can SOMEONE please admit that $15,000 is a lot of fucking money to just produce on the spot? It is for wage slaves like me, anyways.
Posted by matt on December 1, 2009 at 8:27 PM · Report this
15
"Can SOMEONE please admit that $15,000 is a lot of fucking money to just produce on the spot?"

It wasn't for this piece of shit, he produced it right away. It must be embarrassing to know a POS like this has his shit together financially better than you do.
Posted by Kevin Keagan on December 1, 2009 at 8:47 PM · Report this
16
Huckabee has little responsibility in this matter. There is no way for anyone to have known that Clemmons would kill these officers back then. A 16 year old should not be sentenced to life in prison except for the absolute most heinous of crimes. Pardons and commutations are a matter of grace that the executive (and sometimes legislature) when the system fails to achieve a just result.

The focus needs to be on pretrial detention procedures. You could generally make the same arguments about pretrial detention in that you can't tell the future; however, both seemingly fit the criteria for detention without extremely high or no bail. I think the focus should be on the pretrial detention procedures and whether the prosecutor's office failed to argue their case effectively.
Posted by RedHawk on December 1, 2009 at 9:12 PM · Report this
17
I meant both Monfort and Clemmons slipped through pretrial detention cracks. Either the system is flawed or the prosecutor failed to argue effectively.
Posted by RedHawk on December 1, 2009 at 9:14 PM · Report this
Yonson 18
It is interesting that Western State Hospital found all three of our major, super crazy, killers of totally unfortunate strangers competent to stand trial for violent offenses, court proceedings which somehow ended in release.
kalebu and clemmons:
http://slog.thestranger.com/slog/archive…
Williams:
http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/lo…

Is this an acceptable coincidence?.. or a pattern symptomatic of a legal or institutional inability to serve our mentally ill community and protect everyone else?
Posted by Yonson on December 1, 2009 at 9:22 PM · Report this
19
Folks, I don't know what world you are living in where $150K bail on the rape charge ($190K total) is a low bail. Constitutionally in Washington, only defendants held on investigation of or charged with capital offenses (aggravated first degree murder is the only capital offense in Washington presently) can be held without bail. So SOME bail had to be set in Clemmons's child rape case. When Eli reports that Clemmons was "nonetheless released on bail," he is suggesting wrongly that the judges had a choice about setting bail.

For someone of moderate means, $190K bail is usually an unreachable amount -- you not only have to have 10% to give up in a cash fee to the bondsman, but must have title to property worth the remainder. The judge likely did not intend this defendant to be released. It is unusual to have bails higher than this.
Posted by sorrytony on December 1, 2009 at 10:29 PM · Report this
20
Wow. Kevin Keagan is a douche.
Posted by Pliggett Darcy on December 1, 2009 at 10:57 PM · Report this
21
You see, Kevin Keagan, it doesn't matter if you are right. Conservatives are still hypocritical, will-fully stupid idiots who are destroying America.

Sure, let's say it was all the big-bad Liberal Judge's fault. That doesn't change the fact that conservatives continue to bill themselves as being "tough on crime." I'm sure you're familiar with the name Willie Horton. Dukakis' 1988 presidential campaign was torpedoed over this issue, despite the fact that the program that allowed Horton's freedom was created by a Republican governor. Now we have another Republican *directly responsible* for the prisoner's release, not something that just happened while he was in office, like Dukakis.

So now the conservative wingnuts are falling all over themselves to forgive Huckabee and lay the blame somewhere else. Does Huckabee take "personal responsibility" for his actions? Of course not. He's a hypocrite, like all modern conservatives. Because the entire conservative agenda has nothing to do with policy. The only goal for conservatives is to achieve power. They're not interested in actually governing, only interested in being in Power.

One more thing, Kevin dear-- You'd be a lot more convincing if you didn't parrot whatever appears on Fox News, or Rush's program. I've yet to read any conservative post on the internet that had an original thought, or something that I couldn't get from the conservative media blow-hards.
Posted by Some Old Nobodaddy on December 1, 2009 at 11:58 PM · Report this
22
First, it was Maurice Clemons's fault. He was the evil piece of shit who did this. How hard is that to understand? Second, it was the fault of his despicable cesspool of an extended family. The various municipalities, judges, mental health providers bear in toto such a comparatively miniscule part in this affair that it's not worth mentioning.
Posted by Billy Chav on December 2, 2009 at 12:14 AM · Report this
23
His sad life and death (resulting from the death of others, essentially) are a combination of crappy genes and fairly recent mental illness which was not adequately treated BECAUSE our commitment laws are so lax, we can't involuntarily contain dangerous mentally ill people who have or are likely to commit crimes that hurt themselves or others. The current commitment law was instituted in the late 70s to counteract the fact that formerly people were committed simply on the say-so of a family member and a doctor. The legislature went so far overboard it's extremely difficult to legally submit anyone to involuntary treatment. This certainly isn't the first guy to rattle around, loony as hell, until he commits mayhem. Until the law is changed, he won't be the last one in Washington State to do so. The courts and the prison system is strained as it is and prison isn't the place for these guys. They need to be somewhere they can be restrained AND treated.

I can't stand Huckabee, but he's not the problem.
Posted by sarah68 on December 2, 2009 at 1:07 AM · Report this
24
Now we will never know for sure. The person responsible is the proven perpetrator of any crime(s). Behind the veil of police information distribution systems, the entertainment press and spin from every interest, we consumers of all the sound bites can safely say we will never know the whole truth...ever. Lets live with that and seek truth, knowing and accepting we may never get it.
Posted by junk.mail on December 2, 2009 at 3:46 AM · Report this
25
You girls fail epically in trying to tie Huckabee's religious beliefs to this tragedy-

Pin the blame where it belongs-
on your own
Clergy and High Priesthood
of the
Most Righteous Godless Heathen Secular Humanism-
your liberal permissive judges and
your absolution granting psychologists...
Posted by Reap the Whirlwind... on December 2, 2009 at 5:18 AM · Report this
26
Clemmons did not only pay 15,000 bail to get out he also signed over title to a house that he paid 265,000 for in May 2008. He bought the house from an estate settlement with a 245,000 loan from the estate. Not sure what it is worth considering the ups and downs in the market. The judge may have seen a crazy black guy and thought that he could have never come up with 15,000 and convince a bondsman that he had enough security to bond out. Probably a case of prejudice working in the minorities favor
Posted by wl on December 2, 2009 at 5:53 AM · Report this
27
In addition to the house I mentioned above he also sogned over title to another house to secure his bond. This other house was purchased for 250,000 and he owed countrywide at least 250,000 on it.
Posted by wl on December 2, 2009 at 6:09 AM · Report this
28
Let me get this straight: 16 yr old black kid gets sentenced to 90 yrs for unarmed robbery and Sloggers start screaming "keep him in jail?"

Absolutely Huckebee is a flaming hypocrit. So are 90% of the Sloggers here and Eli Sanders for trying to pin this on Huckebee's act of 'compassion'.

Posted by Keep your big butt outta my seat on December 2, 2009 at 7:41 AM · Report this
29
Shocking! A whole family of black people was complicit in the butcher of four honky cops!

Most black people don't care about raising their own children, much less taking care of anyone else. How can anyone who isn't living in some dishonest fantasyland not get that?

Brace your "community" for an upturn in police brutality.
Posted by bobby digital on December 2, 2009 at 8:31 AM · Report this
30
Shocking! A whole family of black people was complicit in the butcher of four honky cops!

Most black people don't care about raising their own children, much less taking care of anyone else. How can anyone who isn't living in some dishonest fantasyland not get that?

Brace your "community" for an upturn in police brutality.
Posted by bobby digital on December 2, 2009 at 8:41 AM · Report this
31
re:Huckabee's released statement

I'm no fan of the Hucksteer but he nails it 1000%.
Posted by Fair and Balanced on December 2, 2009 at 9:35 AM · Report this
Fnarf 32
Huckabee's statement is absolutely solid.

You all should read the Seattle Times story on the parole violation warrant with Arkansas. They're the real guilty party here -- the goddamn incompetents in the Arkansas justice system.

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/lo…

Or, you could just keep arguing about crap you don't understand the first thing about.
Posted by Fnarf http://www.facebook.com/fnarf on December 2, 2009 at 9:51 AM · Report this
passionate_jus 33
@23 You nailed it.

Another problem is that we don't spend nearly enough money on mental health treatment.

Huckabee is not to blame. His statement makes a lot of sense and granting clemency to a man serving a 108 year sentence for robbery crimes committed while 16 was the right thing to do.

The real problem is how we as a society treat mental illness.
Posted by passionate_jus on December 2, 2009 at 9:53 AM · Report this
baconpussy 34
Huckabee's statement is more than sufficient for me to agree with him.
Posted by baconpussy on December 2, 2009 at 10:01 AM · Report this
JF 35
@21 your post reads of a college freshman who just finished their first sociology class.
Posted by JF on December 2, 2009 at 10:12 AM · Report this
36
GOOD JOB, ELI, fine piece of journalism. Some of the threads reveal the sorry state of race relations in our country, in our city. We must all strive to be the change we desire.
Posted by Wild Bill on December 2, 2009 at 10:25 AM · Report this
leek 37
I agree that Huckabee's statement makes complete sense. It always disappoints me to see liberals doing the double standard thing, so just chiming in that it sounds like Huckabee was trying to do the right thing given the evidence before him, and we shouldn't be pinning the blame on him simply because many right-wingers would try to do that if he were a Democrat.
Posted by leek on December 2, 2009 at 10:29 AM · Report this
br@d 38
Wow, Huckabee's statement is super solid. I don't feel very comfortable being on his side of any issue, but he nails it.
Posted by br@d on December 2, 2009 at 10:37 AM · Report this
39
" Some of the threads reveal the sorry state of race relations in our country"

I agree. It's outrageous that black teenagers sentenced to 100 yr sentences from unarmed robbery are pardoned! I'd be more than happy if they locked them all up for life.
Posted by Ian Smith on December 2, 2009 at 10:43 AM · Report this
Max Solomon 40
huckabee values soldiers and police above all other members of society - that's not a solid statement.

but clemmons' original sentence was cruel and unusual and should have been commuted.
Posted by Max Solomon on December 2, 2009 at 11:07 AM · Report this
Sir Vic 41
Huckabee's statement is correct, at face value.

The real truth is that he went on a pardon/clemency/commutation binge that neatly corresponded to the electoral cycle. He needed the black vote in Arkansas to win. He was/is a white preacher from a state that does not integrate its churches, and was therefore looked at with suspicion by the black community.
He found solid political cover with commutations, in particular, as it was the Parole Board that releases prisioners, not the Guv'ner. A pardon would be tough to dodge, but a commutation just made someone eligible for parole. Huckabee could then campaign on a "friend of the black community" plank, without the danger that the criminals released would come back to haunt him directly. I wonder which one of his advisors came up with this plan, as it is a pretty good one for campaign purposes.
Posted by Sir Vic on December 2, 2009 at 11:37 AM · Report this
Geni 42
of course it isn't Huckabee's FAULT Clemmons went crazy and started killing cops. But Willie Horton wasn't Michael Dukakis' fault either. Payback's a bitch.

And we can't hold people without bail in non-capital crimes in this state.

The question I'd really like answered, personally, is how a convicted felon came by those two handguns he had when he went into Forza Coffeeshop in the first place.
Posted by Geni on December 2, 2009 at 11:52 AM · Report this
43
@42- We can detain people for being crazy & a danger to themselves or others. Good question regarding the guns. The simple answer is "He got the illegally." Hopefully the suppliers can be found and jailed as well.
Posted by dwight moody on December 2, 2009 at 12:18 PM · Report this
Will in Seattle 44
@43 - doubt it. They'll just say he presented fake ID. and the NRA will get them off. It's what they do.
Posted by Will in Seattle http://www.facebook.com/WillSeattle on December 2, 2009 at 12:39 PM · Report this
45
"He needed the black vote in Arkansas to win."

So apparently letting wild criminals back into the black community wins you the black vote?

It takes a village I guess...I'm just glad I live no where near one of these particular villages.
Posted by Oscar on December 2, 2009 at 1:12 PM · Report this
46
Although I definately would never ever agree with anything he does/says, Its unfair to place the blame on Huckabee. For him to be responsible would require the ability to see a decade into the future. Given the information he had,at the time and the "Good Christian" line from Clemmons, he probably saw no harm in his commuting the sentence.
The system did fail though - anybody who is claiming to be Jesus Christ is either on drugs (and needs help) or has a mental illness (and needs help.) If claiming to be Jesus Christ, raping a girl, and assaulting a police officer are not reasons to have someone committed (especially if they , and others around them claim they are unwell) that WHAT is?
Posted by KatTheCanuckistan http://soundmusing.blogspot.com/ on December 2, 2009 at 1:24 PM · Report this
47
Wow... 46 comments and none of the liberal-hating Huckabee defenders have address the core question from my comment #1:

"Did a clemency request like Clemmons's, touting his "good Christian" influences, become a Get-Out-of-Jail-Free Card during Huckabee's tenure? And would a similar inmate, touting his upbringing as a "good Muslim" or desire to be a "good Secular Humanist," have received the same treatment from his state's Chief Executive?"
Posted by d.p. on December 2, 2009 at 1:51 PM · Report this
Will in Seattle 48
You know, if we just let free all the non-violent MJ users, we'd have enough space in our jails for all the wacko gun nuts ...
Posted by Will in Seattle http://www.facebook.com/WillSeattle on December 2, 2009 at 1:51 PM · Report this
49
@47- Who cares? Seriously, Huckabee is the GOP's problem and if he ends up being nominated it's great news for the democrats. Because everyone who's not on the Right fringe already hates the guy. We all know he's a theocrat and an enemy of freedom. This clemency issue is the WORST issue to try to go after him about, because letting a kid out of a brutal jail sentence was a GOOD idea. Unfortunately, Clemmons was the wrong guy to let out, but that was unknowable.
Posted by dwight moody on December 2, 2009 at 2:27 PM · Report this
Vince 50
I love the way these right wingers are never to blame.
Posted by Vince on December 2, 2009 at 2:35 PM · Report this
Sir Vic 51
@47 Wow, 45 comments between posts, and you apparently didn't read any of them.

Jesus was a ruse. Huckabee was trying to get re-elected. The answer is pretty obvious if you care to look at the reality of how & when politicians make decisions.
Posted by Sir Vic on December 2, 2009 at 3:05 PM · Report this
52
1. huge blame shifting to Arkansas. We had him, we let him go.

2. the fault is (A) the prosecutor, only asking for $200K, (b) that judge feldnagle whoever, he's sure hiding behind his black robe, mmm? and (C) we must have the most stupid bail laws in the world if you don't like at priors and we maintain the system of 10$ down and EZ credit financing.

3. WE are to blame because no one pays attention to these things until there is a tragedy, then we forget and will reelect this judge again, we will laud the pierce county prosecutor and probably elect him to pierce county exec becuz we so adroitly shifted all blame to arkansas, and we will continue without looking at or taking responsibility for or getting our legislators to revise these bail laws because obviously someone who got a 98 year sentence who committed assaults here who punched cops here who faced child rape here and who is unstable shouldn't fucking have been let out on bail and our system allowed it and we're in charge of out system.

Since you asked who's at fault.
Posted by Let's all hate on arkansas/avoid the mirror! on December 2, 2009 at 4:20 PM · Report this
53
well, one huge unknown, with Clemmons being killed and not standing trial is whether or not he actually is guilty of killing the officers. The public will never know, to the standard of necessary guilt at a criminal trial, that this person is the real murderer. Now that he is out of the picture, dead and no case has to be proven, the prosecution and police will offer evidence and state, matter of fact like, that he is the one, but the fact will always remain that we will never know whether or not he had a legally acceptable defence.
Posted by bagel on December 2, 2009 at 7:00 PM · Report this
54
@23: Let's hear it for sarah68!!!!!
You NAILED it!!!!!
Posted by wileEcoyote on December 2, 2009 at 10:48 PM · Report this
watchout5 55
I think Huckabee did what he felt was right at the time given the information he had. Now, that's more in the legal sense of things, where legally I don't see any reason to think we should take some kind of action against him.

However politically this is absolutely devastating. It's clear to me that if this now cop-killer wasn't previously given a second chance on what seems to be faith Huckabee falls into the Sarah Palin category of political figures. Sure they want to get elected, but I'd rather vote in a centrist democrat than 'let' another ring wing extremist who cares more about their faith than the American people (and I understand, to them the 2 separate topics are the exact same thing) get elected. Little progress is better than getting blasted back to the stone age, though honestly, considering all the circumstances in his previous case, I might have made the same choice too.
Posted by watchout5 http://www.overclockeddrama.com on December 2, 2009 at 11:37 PM · Report this
56
Why was Washington taking so long to process (or whatever) the 8 felonies he'd committed in MAY that they had to release him in July????? I don't see how they can blame arkansas for that.
Posted by idaho on December 2, 2009 at 11:47 PM · Report this
57
@42 &43: Good points!
Posted by wileEcoyote on December 2, 2009 at 11:51 PM · Report this
58
The original grant of clemmency was reasonable-108 years for crimes committed at 16 is unjustifiable. It is unreasonable to expect anyone to guess that a decade later this guy would go on a violent rampage.
And, while he may have been sowing signs of metal instability, he may well have been competent to stand trail. The laws regarding competence are written to prevent defendants using an "insanity claim" without being seriously mentally ill.
Posted by BakerB on December 3, 2009 at 7:50 AM · Report this
59
A 90 year sentence for a 16 year old is a harsh sentence. The liberals on these pages and at this esteemed news outlet are quick to blame Huckabee for releasing a cop killer... Sure is easy to blame people using Hindsight!

The same people on here calling for Huckabee's head are also most likely in favor of reforming Draconian prison sentences such as a 90 yr robbery sentence for a 16 yr old.

The only person to blame for this act is Maruice Clemons, and thankfully due to the quick action of a SPD officer got pumped full of lead.
Posted by coryt5000 on December 3, 2009 at 2:30 PM · Report this
60
I wasn't trying to be rude, cocky, or dismissive of other issues when I repeated myself @47.

It just REALLY FREAKS ME OUT that Huckabee, as the executive entrusted with complete discretion over clemency matters, was making life-altering decisions (for those who would be released or rot in jail, AND for the potential victims of an unwise grant of clemecy) based SOLELY ON HIS OWN RELIGIOUS BIAS (Christians worthy, others not), flouting both the Establishment Clause and the Equal Protection Clause, and that no one seems to bat an eye at this.
Posted by d.p. on December 3, 2009 at 3:16 PM · Report this
61
you people are all stupid.

people commit crimes. that's what they do. they always have, always will and there's nothing you can do about it. any attempt to plug the failing damn of human existence is masturbation and i hope you brought some kleenex because this is going to be a painful decline.
Posted by endtimes on December 3, 2009 at 4:20 PM · Report this
Y.F. Redux 62
Q: Who's fault is it?

A: President Ronald Reagan and all those who support his idiotic ideology.

Reagan is responsible for reducing public mental health services and releasing the mentally ill onto the streets. He also came up with the "War On Drugs" and "Just Say No" which unfairly targeted Black crack addicts with harsh mandatory sentences while allowing white cocaine users off the hook.
Posted by Y.F. Redux on December 3, 2009 at 5:08 PM · Report this
63
They knew it was Clemmons immediatly. They had him on camera,Witnesses identified his mug shot, and friends and family were coming out of the woodwork to cover their collective asses. His name was not pulled out of thin air. They were even told exactly who helped and how. I'm a conservative democrat and I think the far right conservatives and the far left liberals are equally guilty for this turn of events.
Posted by dani girl on December 3, 2009 at 6:33 PM · Report this
Rev.Smith 64
@59: see, I think a fatal bullet wound is a harsh sentence too, especially outside the Old West frontier-time.
Once the innocent have been proven guilty, I'll firmly blame the person who committed the crimes... for the crimes.

Because I expect as much if I'M shot by the cops.

Funny thing, that.

I'm with @22 I guess: Though I'm happy to place a small slice of 'blame' on parents & his friends/community for bringing him up so completely detached from right & wrong.

Blame the taxpayer-paid "system"? Fuck no, I own that, and I know *I* ain't to blame for this. I'd have to, you know, er, blame Myself for complacency or somethin.

Won't see anyone doing that.

Ever.

@29 - I'll accept your foolish racism IF you can do something about the violent sexual crimes, 92% perpetrated by 'whites'...
No? Then address the real tangible problems, not the skin pigment problems you've cooked up in your imagin-nation.

@19 nails the point about bail.

On the subject of ole Huck: I think y'all er wrong: he shoulda Reduced Sent'nce, not applied clemency. Happy medium: Clemmons'd still be in jail, but not for life.

@49: I'm hoping for Huckabee/Palin to run, myself. ;)

@61: don't you have a street corner and a cardboard placard to occupy?
Posted by Rev.Smith on December 4, 2009 at 2:16 AM · Report this
stillahippie 65
Its just the way it is and its wrong if you freak out and go insane and homeless in Washington the cops will hound you till you snap. Then they blow you away.That is the extent of our mental health care...
Posted by stillahippie http://stillahippiesnewsblog.wordpress.com/ on December 4, 2009 at 8:01 PM · Report this
66
He was given multiple second chances and blew them all, but was not held accountable. As for the "visions" of people drinking blood and killing babies, that is not mental illness, it is just malingering, as the psychiatrists told the court; he was a danger because he was a manipulative, lying psychopath. It's (somewhat) understandable that his family aided in his escape, but why did the justice system let him get away with everything short of the murder of multiple cops?
Posted by nortonclybourn on December 5, 2009 at 7:27 AM · Report this
67
comment from #1-
good point.
appeal to christianity could have gotten him out, but very unlikely appeal to anything else (including, and especially, islam)

Posted by westside rentals is a deathtrap on December 5, 2009 at 5:24 PM · Report this
Texas10R 68
Could we please cease using the word "snuck" ["Authorities say Clemmons snuck up behind the cop..."] in formal English? Granted, it may seem appropriate within the context of a story closely related to an Evangelical Christian Governor of a state in the Deep South. Unless you want to seem as unsophisticated as Governor Huckabee's sense of judgment, "snuck" is best reserved for use as a colloquialism.
Posted by Texas10R on December 6, 2009 at 7:04 AM · Report this
69
Wait a minute.

We have a system were a 17 year old can be sentenced to life in prison for a robbery, and then we wonder why when people like this get out, they want to kill police officers? If you believe that the US actions in the middle east are helping to create terrorist, then you should see the connection here. Would a sane criminal justice system [where police misbehavior was not tolerated, and sentences that fit crimes] produce such animosity towards the police and other symbols of state authority?
Posted by fetish on December 6, 2009 at 10:00 PM · Report this
70
huckabee should be held accountable for his religious beliefs playing a role in his gift of clemency. however, the state of arkansas can be held responsible for not bitch-slapping clemmons once he was granted clemency and THEN violated his parole shortly there-after. then, they first agreed to, then took back an offer to issue a warrant that would keep clemmons in jail to await trial for rape and assault. regardless of all that, it's solely clemmons fault (with a little WTF thrown to his family for not, say, alerting the authorities when he promised to kill cops and kids at thanksgiving dinner) that those officers are dead.
Posted by lexi on December 6, 2009 at 11:53 PM · Report this
71
How many soldiers die every day? And we have parades and 24/7 coverage in the media aobut this. PUT THINGS IN PERSPECTIVE.
Posted by tragedy on December 7, 2009 at 12:20 AM · Report this
72
huckster granted a reduction in sentence from 107+ years to 47 years, making the guy eligible for parole. understandable given the minor was sentenced for two small robberies without a weapon.

are you folks even sure clemmons had anything to do with the forza shooting? what makes you so sure? it looks like a black op to me intended to sell gun control and police crackdowns. clemmons was probably just another patsy.
Posted by foreign observer on December 7, 2009 at 7:19 AM · Report this
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