Missourians Granted Pardons Include Abuse Victims
Eric Greitens pardoned five people and commuted the sentence of four prisoners to time served before he resigned as Missouri's governor amid allegations of personal and political misconduct. Department of Corrections spokeswoman Karen Pojmann says the prisoners were released Friday, the same day Greitens commuted their sentences to time served. Here's a look at the people to whom he showed mercy, including women who allegedly suffered abuse and men Greitens says were wrongly convicted:
RODNEY LINCOLN: Lincoln was convicted of manslaughter and two counts of assault for the killing and sexual assault of a St. Louis woman, as well as the sexual assault of the woman's two daughters. He was sentenced to two life sentences in 1983. Lincoln, now 73, consistently maintained his innocence. One of the woman's daughters later said she was wrong when, at age 7, she implicated Lincoln in the crime. Greitens says Lincoln was wrongly convicted.
JESSIE McKIM: McKim and his uncle James Peavler were convicted of first-degree murder for Wendy Wagnon's 1997 drug-related death. Both were sentenced to life in prison without parole. McKim unsuccessfully appealed, citing testimony from five pathologists who said the former medical examiner wrongly ruled that Wagnon died from suffocation. A judge ruled that other evidence indicated that the two men could have killed Wagnon —whom they considered a snitch for her plans to testify at a drug trial — with an intentional methamphetamine overdose. Greitens says McKim, now 52, was wrongly convicted.
VERDIA MILLER: Miller was convicted of murder in the death of Larry Dean Smiddy and sentenced to 50 years in prison without the opportunity for parole. A release from Saint Louis University School of Law's legal clinic, which helped represent her, says she didn't directly participate in the 1978 killing and suffered from abuse and battered woman's syndrome. She faced an additional 15 years in prison, but Greitens commuted her sentence to time served. She left days before her 76th birthday.
ALVIS WILLIAMS: Williams was convicted of two counts of second-degree burglary and two counts of stealing what Greitens' office said amounted to a Walkman, VCR and other electronics. He was sentenced in 1994 to 80 years in prison. Greitens said under current law, those crimes carry a maximum prison sentence of 10 years. Democratic Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker in January 2017 asked then-Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon to commute Williams' sentence. Nixon didn't act, but Greitens freed him. Williams is now 48.
STACEY LANNERT: Lannert spent 18 years in prison for killing her father in 1990, when she was 18. Prosecutors argued she wanted his money, but she's said her father sexually abused her for years. She was convicted of first-degree murder and armed criminal action and sentenced to life in prison without parole. Former Republican Gov. Matt Blunt commuted her sentence in 2009. She now works as an assistant public defender.
BETTY COLEMAN: Coleman was convicted in 1981 of the murder of Kerry Brummett of Jefferson City, a potential witness against her then-boyfriend in a burglary. Her boyfriend Doyle Williams was executed in 1996 for Brummett's murder. Then-Democratic Gov. Bob Holden granted clemency to Coleman in 2004. In issuing her pardon, Greitens said she "served 27 years in prison because her abusive boyfriend murdered someone, and she unknowingly and inadvertently played a role in the incident."
JUDY HENDERSON: Henderson served more than three decades in prison for participating in a robbery that resulted in the shooting death of Springfield jeweler Harry Klein. Investigators said Henderson's boyfriend shot Klein. The judge at Henderson's trial said she played a "relatively minor" role in the crime, but she was still sentenced to life in prison without parole for 50 years. Greitens commuted her sentenced to time served in December and pardoned her Friday.
MARK WHITTLE: Greitens pardoned Whittle for a 1996 felony conviction related to repeated drunken-driving offenses. Whittle completed three years of probation in 2000 and went on to work for the state Department of Mental Health.
GARY R. THOMAS: Thomas was convicted of second-degree assault in 2007 and was sentenced to five years in prison. Greitens' release described him as "a former Marine whose only brush with the law is a fistfight." He shared the same attorney — Scott Rosenblum — as Greitens, whom Rosenblum represented in a now-dismissed felony invasion-of-privacy case against him.