Colorado's Hickenlooper grants pardons for 22 he says have improved lives and communities

Posted at 5:07 PM, Nov 20, 2017
and last updated 2017-11-20 19:07:28-05

DENVER – Gov. John Hickenlooper granted clemency to 22 people Monday he says have “taken great strides to improve their lives and communities.”

“The 22 people I am pardoning today serve as an example that redemption is possible. I believe they will use this opportunity to continue improving their lives, raising families, and being productive members of their communities,” Hickenlooper said. “They have earned the opportunity for a second chance.”

The 22 pardons mean Hickenlooper has publicly forgiven those people, and come after each person’s completion of their sentence.

Hickenlooper said granting clemency is “one of the most difficult issues a leader can face,” and said he granted the pardons because in many cases, the people “have overcome significant obstacles.”

“Some of their criminal actions resulted from a drug addiction, some from youthful indiscretion, some from difficult childhoods or family situations, and some for reasons even they do not understand. All come from different walks of life and have a unique story to tell,” Hickenlooper said.

But he said he hoped the pardons would help them further re-integrate into normal life.

“Hopefully, it will be a little easier for them to rent an apartment and put food on the table; walk into a job interview knowing they will get a fair shot; volunteer in their children’s schools; and live out their final years with peace of mind,” Hickenlooper said.

With each executive order granting their clemency, Hickenlooper also wrote notes to each person, some of which contained personal overtures regarding the changes some had made in their lives.

“The clemency process creates important opportunities and gives a second chance to someone who committed a crime at a very young age,” Hickenlooper said. “Some have proven themselves in extraordinary ways, others have faced serious life consequences because of infractions they committed when they were young.”

But he noted that some of the cases underwent years of evaluation by him, his staff, victims, judges and prosecutors.

“This decision in no way lessens the impact their crimes had on others.”

Among those not granted pardons are Nathan Dunlap, Sir Mario Owens, and Robert Ray – the three people who currently sit on the state’s death row. Dunlap had his execution postponed by Hickenlooper in 2013, but his attorneys have pushed for Hickenlooper to commute Dunlap’s sentence before he leaves office.

Below are those granted clemency Monday, and the crimes they were convicted of:

  • Breana M. Bright – Theft, Douglas Co., 2007
  • Linda J. Burch – Marijuana possession, Delta Co., 1992
  • Robert G. Busse – Criminal trespass, Grand Co., 1989, wants to become a deputy
  • Jerome H. Casper, Jr. – Theft, Montrose Co. 1983, wants to join DPD or CSP
  • Donald J. Corkum – Theft, El Paso Co., 1978
  • Trina M. Cutcher – Possession or sale of a controlled substance, El Paso Co., 1996
  • Matthew D. Eschenfelder – Theft, Larimer Co., 2005, Now a VP at Bank of America
  • Donald G. Haggart – Aggravated motor vehicle theft, El Paso Co., 1988
  • Roger C. Harsh – Marijuana possession, Adams Co., 1972, Convicted while in Air Force
  • Mark L. Horner – Theft, Adams Co., 1997, Rescued 3 people from tanker truck crash
  • Christopher E. Karr – False information to a pawnbroker, El Paso Co., 1994
  • Travis A. Leach – Marijuana possession, Jefferson Co., 2005
  • Judith A. Lopez – Forgery, Denver Co., and attempted theft, Adams Co., 1981; Possession, Denver Co., and theft, Jefferson Co., 1987; Served on the Denver Crime Prevention and Control Commission.
  • Joe V. Maestas – Possession of a controlled substance, Denver Co., 1992, Suffered from addiction after Vietnam
  • Louis L. Mitchell – Marijuana possession, El Paso Co., 2000
  • Charles W. Pope – Car parts theft, Montrose Co., 1962, Air Force veteran
  • Demitrius La Troy Roberts – Possession of a controlled substance, Denver Co., 1995
  • Frances A. Sagel – Forgery, Morgan Co. and bad check writing, Weld Co., 1996, now a nurse
  • Bounlom Souvannamacho – Attempted kidnapping, Adams Co., and aggravated robbery, Jefferson Co., 1994, Crimes happened when he was 18
  • Wayne C. Thomas – Aggravated robbery, Arapahoe Co., 1997, Happened when he was 17
  • David A. Thyfault – Marijuana possession, Weld Co., 1969
  • James D. Wachsman – Selling marijuana, Routt Co., 1972