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Arkansas governor to commute sentence of man convicted for 1970s murder

Walter Bowden, who was convicted of murder in 1975, will have his life sentence commuted to parole eligible by Gov. Asa Hutchinson.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson has announced he intends to commute the sentence of a man convicted for a murder that happened in 1973.

Hutchinson made the announcement Tuesday along with several other pardons and commutations.

He will commute the sentence of Walter Bowden from life in prison to immediately parole eligible.

Bowden along with two other defendants were found guilty for the murder of W.C. Anderson, which happened on December 29, 1973.

That first trial was reversed by the Arkansas Supreme Court, ruling that Bowden's confession was "involuntary and inadmissible."

Bowden, who was taken in for questioning on December 31, was interrogated by North Little Rock police officers, who were originally "not satisfied" with his answers and scheduled for a polygraph test on New Year's Day.

He was held in jail overnight despite not being charged and was not "free to leave" despite police believing he was under arrest. After the polygraph, Bowden was interrogated a second time and said he didn't kill anyone.

In a discussion with Jim Hamilton, a Pulaski County prosecuting attorney at the time, Bowden was advised by Hamilton that he couldn't make any promises but Bowden would not face more than 21 years in prison if he committed a crime.

After being in jail for around 30 hours, Bowden admitted to participating in robbing Anderson and implicated the two others in the murder.

A second trial was held in 1975 where Bowden was again found guilty of murder.

Bowden filed a petition in 2013, claiming that his defense counsel was "ineffective" when he was told to reject the state's plea of 21 years of imprisonment.

He said he would have accepted the plea deal, but instead received a life sentence.

That petition was dismissed due to statue of limitations.

The Pulaski County prosecuting attorney has raised an objection to Hutchinson's commutation.

We will update this article with more information as it becomes available.

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