Grant clemency to a father serving a 20 year mandatory minimum sentence for trying to protect his family
  • Petitioning Florida Governor

This petition will be delivered to:

Florida Governor

Grant clemency to a father serving a 20 year mandatory minimum sentence for trying to protect his family

    1. Sharon Elmaleh
    2. Petition by

      Sharon Elmaleh

      Great Neck, NY

Orville (Lee) Wollard is serving a 20 year mandatory minimum sentence for protecting his family against a violent individual in his Florida home by firing a warning shot.  Nobody was injured or hit. 

Some time in May, 2008, Lee came home from work and found his youngest daughter on the porch with her boyfriend.  When Lee asked him to leave, the boyfriend attacked him, ripping out stitches from Lee's recent surgery. Then the boyfriend left with the daughter, and Lee was in too much pain to do much else. By way of history, the boyfriend had been stealing prescription pain medication from the family home, and had on a prior occasion knocked down and beaten up the girl, as witnessed by neighbors.

Lee  went to the bedroom to lay down.  Some hours later, he was awakened by his older daughter's pleas to him that he come out of the bedroom and help, because the same young man was fighting with the younger daughter.  Scared for his family’s safety, Lee took his pistol into the hallway area and saw his younger daughter crying, and the boyfriend punching a hole with his fist in the living room wall.  Lee ordered the boyfriend to leave. The boyfriend, with clenched fists, came closer to Lee, who at that point shot a bullet into the living room wall to scare him. No one was hurt and this finally caused the boy to leave the house.  

In mid-July, 2008, Lee again found his daughter with the boyfriend at the family's home. They were fighting loudly.  The boyfriend tried to drag Lee's daughter out of the house.  In view of the fact that the boyfriend had repeatedly taken his daughter out of the home for days at a time, and prior attempts to involve the police and obtain a restraining order had failed to keep this from happening, this time Lee physically held on to his daughter so that she would not leave again with the boyfriend.  After the boyfriend finally left, he called the police.  It was that day that the boyfriend mentioned to the police the incident from back in May.  That same day, Lee was arrested - he was charged with assault with a weapon without intent to kill.

Believing he was within his rights to defend his family, Lee rejected a plea deal for five years of probation and pled not guilty. The jury rejected Lee's self-defense claim and found him guilty of possessing and discharging a firearm, triggering Florida’s 20-year mandatory minimum for aggravated assault with a weapon.  

Judge Donald Jacobsen had no choice but to sentence Lee to two decades behind bars. Judge Jacobsen said:   "This [sentence] is obviously excessive…if it weren’t for the mandatory minimum…I would use my discretion and impose some separate sentence, having taken into consideration the circumstances of the event, but I think I am duty-bound to apply the law as it has been enacted by the legislature."

The officer who prepared Lee's sentencing score sheet also begged the government to recognize the extenuating circumstances of the case.  Additionally, the investigating officer stated that he believed Lee's daughter and the boyfriend had used this incident solely to get back at Lee for trying to keep them apart. 

This is our plea to Governor Rick Scott of Florida and the other members of the Clemency Board.  You are the only people who can do the ultimate act of justice; grant clemency to Lee and cut short the 20 year jail sentence that he has been serving since the summer of 2008.

This sentence has destroyed a family and we hope you will sign this petition to ask Governor Rick Scott and the Clemency Board to grant clemency to Lee. 

On October 5, 2014, at 9:00 am, CBS Sunday Morning will air an interview Lee gave from prison. For any of you who have a chance to watch, please know that if you can raise awareness about the case based on what you hear from Lee, it would be an important act of compassion.

You can read more about Wollard's case here: http://famm.org/ProfilesofInjustice/StateProfiles/OrvilleLeeWollardIIIFlorida1.aspx

Recent signatures

    News

    1. Interview on CBS Sunday Morning show _October 5, 2014

      Sharon Elmaleh
      Petition Organizer

      On October 5, 2014, at 9:00 am, CBS Sunday Morning will air an interview Orville (Lee) Wollard gave from prison. You will be able to hear Lee tell his story in his own words. We urge you to watch if you can. Awareness amongst the American public is the first step; political action is the second.

      If you are a resident of Florida, please, please pick up the phone to your local politicians, to your senator, or to the Governor's office, and let them know how you feel about the application of 10-20-LIFE to a case such as this. If you are a resident of another state which has mandatory minimum sentences on the books, then please be active in any way you wish, if you want to do away with these Draconian sentences.

    2. Fundraising campaign for Lee's wife

      Sharon Elmaleh
      Petition Organizer

      Lee's incarceration has financially destroyed his family. I have created a fundraising website for his wife, Sandy, who is very much in need of financial help at this point. Please donate at:

      http://www.gofundme.com/b1v0do

    3. Mr. Wollard's interview with Joe Berlinger, airing May 25 and May 28

      Sharon Elmaleh
      Petition Organizer

      Joe Berlinger, a master craftsman of hard-hitting documentaries and a gem of a person, interviewed Lee Wollard in prison late last year. Sandy Wollard, Lee's wife, also appears on the show. The interview will be aired on Episode 2 of "The System", an 8 part series presented by Al Jazeera America which examines various aspects of America's criminal justice system. The first airing was May 25, 2014 ...and it will run again on May 28 at 9 pm ET.

    4. Reached 7,000 signatures
    5. With a heavy heart

      Sharon Elmaleh
      Petition Organizer

      It is with a heavy heart that I have to tell all of Orville (Lee's) supporters that a state judge in Florida has just denied his "3.85 motion" asking for a re-trial. The significance of this recent decision is that Orville has now exhausted the last of his state appeals. Had there been a re-trial, he would have had a chance, with his new lawyers, to demonstrate to a jury that his actions were, in fact, justified. Instead, he is now facing the reality that the only way he can walk out those prison doors is with the intervention of the Florida Clemency Board. Your signatures on this petition have taken on an even greater importance. Orville (Lee's) family and friends hope that each of you takes the opportunity to spread the word about his case. Please tell everyone you know, at the water cooler, on the bus, at your dinner tables, in your emails. This tragedy should be un-done.

    6. Reached 6,000 signatures
    7. A clarification

      Sharon Elmaleh
      Petition Organizer

      Some of you who have signed this petition might have misunderstood some aspects of the story. I would just like to set a couple of things straight:

      1. Mr. Wollard was found guilty by a jury (after a one day trial) on the counts on which he was charged. Many of us believe this had something to do with the kind of evidence which - unfortunately - was not presented at the trial, which a jury should have been aware of. Regardless, it was the jury, not the judge, who found him guilty.

      2. The young man who attacked Mr. Wollard earlier in the day did so by physically jumping onto his body, and this ripped out some of the stitches from Mr. Wollard's recent abdominal surgery. The young man, however, did not have a gun, nor did he "break in" to Mr. Wollard's home later. He came in together with Mr. Wollard's teen daughter. That is why the jury was advised not to consider him an intruder.

    8. Mr. Wollard's condition

      Sharon Elmaleh
      Petition Organizer

      What I didn't mention in the original petition is that it has been exceedingly difficult for Mr. Wollard in prison. He had some of his teeth knocked out by another inmate for coming to the defense of yet another inmate. He has had a number of personal items stolen. He has lost a ton of weight due to stress, anxiety and the quality of the prison food, as well as the very limited time which is given to the inmates in which to consume their meals. He is dealing with a chronic skin condition which keeps him from sleeping many nights. The list goes on and on.

    9. Reached 5,000 signatures

    Supporters

    Reasons for signing

    • Charles McCauley FAIRFAX, VA
      • about 18 hours ago

      The man was defending his family.

      I am pro gun ownership for self defense.

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • Patrick Custer LEHIGH ACRES, FL
      • 2 days ago

      Common sense needs to be exercised here.

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • Sylvia hernandez ORLANDO, FL
      • 3 days ago

      this law is ridiculous and the courts should be ashamed of themselves

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • Christopher Little HAZARD, UNITED STATES
      • 3 days ago

      these mandatory minimum laws should not exist period, every case if different and this man should be freed and this taken off his record, you should be allowed to defend yourself and your family, let him go

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • Gail Kaiser ITHACA, NY
      • 3 days ago

      PEOPLE SHOULD BE ALLOWED TO PROTECT THEIR FAMILY

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:

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