Ritter commutes sentences for juvenile killers

By: Associated Press Email
By: Associated Press Email

DENVER (AP) - Four men convicted of murder while they were juveniles have had their sentences commuted by outgoing Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter.

The men were serving sentences of 48 years to life. The commutations mean two of those men will be granted parole, while the other two will be eligible for parole sooner. Ritter says the commutations are the first issued under a juvenile clemency board he established to review requests from prisoner convicted as adults for crimes they committed as juveniles.

Ritter also pardoned 18 other people Friday, including a mentally disabled man executed in 1939. Joe Arridy was executed by lethal gas for killing a 15-year-old Pueblo girl with a hatchet, though later evidence showed he likely didn't commit the crime.

Later evidence suggested the 23-year-old Arridy didn't commit the crime. The man had an I.Q. of 46 and appears to have given a coerced confession. Arridy was likely not in Pueblo when the 15-year-old girl was killed.

Ritter called the Arridy case a “tragic conviction” and said he ordered the posthumous pardon “in the interests of justice and simple decency.”

Arridy is the first person in Colorado pardoned after being executed.

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