12/18/2009 5:12 PM
It's good fun around the Capitol to joke that whenever the Governor's Office isn't particularly proud of something -- but still wants to officially "alert the media" about it -- the governor will send the press release late on a Friday afternoon or just before a holiday.
Well, this afternoon, shortly before 4 p.m. (and before the pre-Christmas weekend begins), Gov. Rick Perry announced a list of eight persons granted clemency by the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles.
Perry looked mighty tough on crime after a shake-up on the Texas Forensic Science Commission in September. Critics said the removal of three out of eight members from the commission denied a chance for new evidence from the murder trial of Cameron Todd Willingham to be re-examined -- a man Perry publicly called "a monster." Many of the same critics say the new evidence would have cleared the name of a man whom some say was wrongfully executed in 2004. So perhaps Perry granting clemency to anyone at this time would make for a lightning rod of attention that perhaps a pre-holiday weekend could deflect.
Without comment, the press released named the following persons granted full pardons:
• Cory Gibson Brazeal, 31, of Fort Worth, who was convicted in 1998 of resisting arrest at the age of 19. He received 30 days in jail which was probated for one year, and paid a $100 fine.
• Natalie Ann Dukate, 33, of Dallas, who was convicted of possession of marijuana in 1996 at the age of 20 and in 1997 at the age of 21. She received three days in jail and paid a $1,500 fine for the first offense, and 180 days in jail which was probated for 180 days, and paid a $300 fine for the second offense.
• Dan Warren Luper, 52, of Burleson, who was convicted of burglary of a motor vehicle in 1975 at the age of 18. He paid a $1,000 fine.
• Sheena Nichole McCloud, 24, of Killeen, who was convicted of theft by check in 2002 at the age of 17. She received 180 days in jail, and paid a $100 fine and $106.32 restitution.
• Victor August Moeller Jr., 49, of Moulton, who was convicted of driving while intoxicated in 1977 at the age of 17 and evading arrest in 1985 at the age of 25. He received 30 days in jail, which was probated for six months and paid a $100 fine for the first offense, and paid a $273.50 fine for the second offense.
• Maria Luisa Ramirez, 50, of Lyford, who was convicted of theft in 1983 at the age of 23, and driving while intoxicated in 1986 at the age of 26. She paid a $100 fine for the first offense, and received 30 days in jail which was probated for one year and paid a $200 fine for the second offense.
• Royce Dean Richardson, 68, of Whitewright, who was convicted of burglary in 1960 at the age of 20. He received three years probation (along with a full pardon, Richardson was granted a restoration of state firearm rights).
• Desire Maraw Taylor, 29, of Belton, who was convicted of assault with bodily injury in 2000 at the age of 22. She received three days in jail and paid a $350 fine.
It should also be noted that Perry announced earlier in the week the appointment of Nizam Peerwani to one of the vacancies on the Texas Forensic Science Commission. Peerwani, the chief medical examiner for Tarrant, Denton, Johnson, and Parker counties, is also a member of Amnesty International, a global organization known for its opposition to the death penalty.
So why did Perry release the list of pardons on a Friday evening? I guess we'll find out Monday ... by the time we've all forgotten about it.