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