LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) – The Arkansas Parole Board recommended clemency for a death row inmate on Wednesday.
The Arkansas Parole Board held Executive Clemency and Victim Input Hearings for Kenneth D. Williams and Jason F. McGehee on Friday, March 31.
The Board recommended 40-year-old Jason F. McGehee be granted clemency.
“I had a feeling they probably would because everything went real well down in Varner Unit. So many people testifying for Jason and putting a good word in, Jason’s attitude, not causing any trouble or anything like that. The board was impressed with what everyone was saying and Jason’s records,” said Jason's father, Jackie McGehee.
They voted 6-1 to grant him clemency. The sole objector voted to not recommend clemency citing reasons including “sentence was not considered excessive, nature and seriousness of the offense and the age of the victim.”
John C. Williams, Assistant Federal Public Defender and Mr. McGehee's attorney, released the following statement in response to today's clemency recommendation:
"Mr. McGehee was only twenty years old at the time of his offense, and his near-perfect record in prison has impressed many people. His clemency petition was supported by both the former head of the Arkansas Department of Correction, Ray Hobbs, and the judge who presided over his trial, Robert McCorkindale. The parole board determined Mr. McGehee warrants clemency instead of death because of his exemplary behavior, his youth at the time of the crime, and also because his sentence is not proportional. Two of his co-defendants who were equally, if not more, culpable received lesser sentences. For all these reasons, we respectfully ask the Governor to accept the parole board's recommendation and sentence Mr. McGehee to life without the possibility of parole instead of death."
John Melbourne Jr. was McGehee's victim. Melbourne's sister, Latesha Faught, is hoping the governor does not grant clemency to McGehee.
“I hope the governor makes the right and just decision in the case of McGehee. Right now, we’re trying to grasp and understand everything that is going on. It’s kind of overwhelming for everybody right now,” Faught said.
The board voted 7-0 not to recommend clemency for Kenneth D. Williams for the reasons of “sentence not considered excessive; nature and seriousness of offense; multiple victims.”