Thirty-five years is a long time. It's particularly long if spent in prison. However, thirty-five years is an eternity when locked up for a horrendous crime you didn't commit. William Macumber has spent the last 35 years in prison for a crime the Arizona Board of Executive Clemency has "substantial doubts" he committed. They stated this in a letter written to Arizona Governor Jan Brewer last year, recommending his release from prison. But in one of many controversial moves by Governor Brewer, their recommendation was rejected without reason, leaving many to question Brewer's motives for keeping an innocent man behind bars.
William Macumber was convicted of a double murder in 1975. According to the testimony of his then-wife Carol, Mr. Macumber confessed to killing a couple in the desert 12 years earlier, a crime that had remained unsolved until that time. The Clemency Board found Carol's testimony to be unreliable and Macumber's attorney and own son have suggested that she actually used her position with an Arizona Sheriff's Department to fabricate the little bit of evidence used at trial. As if that isn't enough, another man actually confessed to the killing in the desert. Despite all of this, Macumber remains in prison--a 74 year old man with heart problems and arthritis who should be enjoying grandchildren, not seeing the long shadows cast by the Arizona sun over razorwire.
Governor Brewer rejected the Clemency Board's recommendation last November. Some feel her reasons are solely political as Brewer is running for reelection this year. This seems entirely plausible as Brewer needs all the help she can get. Known nationally for her highly questionable and frequently criticized immigration law, Brewer is playing it safe with this case, likely believing any potential fallout from not pardoning an innocent man will be far less than looking soft on crime in any capacity.
It's extremely rare for a Clemency Board to make such a recommendation on a case as old as this and even more unusual for them to do so on the basis of innocence. However, it's unheard of for a governor to basically ignore their request with no official reason.
Join us at Change in urging Governor Brewer to reconsider her position. Let her know that the nation is watching and aware that she is the only thing standing in the way of an innocent man being freed.
Photo Credit: Sundials by Carmichael
I write this letter in support of justice. An innocent man has spent 35 years in the Arizona prison system and deserves to spend his final years free. The Arizona Board of Clemency recommended 74 year old William Macumber be freed last year and yet you, Governor Brewer, denied this recommendation with no further explanation. Your seeming disregard for this man's life is not going unnoticed.
William Macumber was convicted of a double homicide that another man confessed to. Ernesto Valenzuela was charged and convicted in a very similar homicide. He even admitted to killing the couple that Macumber was accused of murdering. Valenzuela's attorney, a man who went on to serve nearly a quarter-century as a state judge has no doubt that his client, not William Macumber, was responsible for the murders. The State Board of Clemency tends to agree; why don't you?
A "miscarriage of justice" is how the Board put it and we couldn't agree more. Although the current players in the Arizona court system had no involvement with Macumber's conviction over thirty years ago, many have recognized that errors were made and an innocent man is paying the price. It is in your hands to right this wrong and I urge you to do so. Politics or not, an innocent man shouldn't have to spend his final years in prison. Do what's right and free William Macumber.
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