RUSSELLVILLE, Ark. (KTHV) - The family and friends of a father convicted of killing his child's alleged molester are now asking Governor Mike Beebe to take a second look at his case.
A jury sentenced AJ Cody to 20 years in prison last month. Cody admitted to shooting and killing 65-year-old Lee Britton after his 5-year-old daughter told him Britton had touched her inappropriately. A jury convicted him of second-degree murder, but his friends and family say 20 years in prison is not the punishment he deserved.
"It had to be hard for them, too, but I was completely blown away by what they ended up giving him," said Tiffany Kilburn.
Kilburn is still shocked by the 20-year sentence a jury gave her brother, AJ Cody, for killing the man who allegedly molested his daughter. Now, Cody's friends and family are fighting for his freedom.
"We all understand that a pardon is probably a little far-fetched, but we are just asking the Governor to just at least look into his case and maybe reduce his sentence some, so he can be home with his kids," says family friend Cassie Jones.
Jones set up an online petition at www.change.orgfor AJ Cody petitioning Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe to reduce Cody's sentence or pardon him. As of Tuesday evening, the petition had garnered 1,448 signatures in just over a week. Jones said combined with paper signatures, nearly 3,000 people have signed their name saying AJ Cody should be a free man.
"I have received I couldn't even tell you how many emails and messages from people I don't even know that don't even know AJ and have said tell him thank you for doing what he did because this happened to me when I was a kid and nothing ever happened to the person who did it," added Jones.
Jones and Kilburn want at least 5,000 signatures to present to Governor Beebe to show him the people of Arkansas believe in that this case, justice has already been served.
"Ultimately, yes, I would love for him to be home with those babies because that is where he belongs because he is the only one who stood up for them and took care of them when our government and our law enforcement sure wouldn't. Ultimately, that is what I want, but whether that is what we get, we'll just have to wait and see," said Kilburn.
Cody's family added that he is appealing his conviction. Though he is sentenced to 20 years in prison, Cody is eligible for parole in 10 years and could be released on good behavior after serving five.
Matt Decample, a spokesperson for Governor Beebe, told THV 11 Beebe has never granted a pardon or a lighter sentence to anyone convicted of murder. Decample added that Beebe is a firm believer in letting the judicial process handle these issues and only after the proper appeals process runs it's course will he consider looking at the case himself. Also, Cody must request the pardon himself for it to be considered.