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NAKAMOTO: Settlement reached in fight over death row clemency requests, lawsuits to be dismissed

7 months 2 weeks 8 hours ago Tuesday, October 03 2023 Oct 3, 2023 October 03, 2023 1:50 PM October 03, 2023 in News
Source: WBRZ

UPDATE: The WBRZ Investigative Unit learned Tuesday that District Attorneys and the Attorney General have reached an agreement with the Board of Pardons. Tuesday, Judge Don Johnson dismissed multiple lawsuits tied to the death row clemency hearings at their request. 

Lawyers representing the inmates said they would appeal. 

"We've now been put in a position that is contrary to the board," Lawyer Michael Arata said. "So the intervenors who are seeking clemency are now having to be opposed to the people they are seeking clemency for. That is the direct result of the confusion and conflicts that have arisen by one party being a plaintiff and telling another party who their lawyer is going to be."

District Attorneys from around the state said this was a win for the victims families.

"This has opened the wounds for these family members, the phone calls last night and today were horrible to have to sit there and listen to and explain the process," District Attorney Hillar Moore said. "What do you mean there's another chance? It's disheartening. This isn't about life and death but it's about those brutally killed across the state."

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BATON ROUGE - Sources have confirmed to the WBRZ Investigative Unit that a settlement is close to being reached between the Board of Pardons and prosecutors from across the state of Louisiana.

Sources said the deal would mean most of the more than 50 death row inmates at Angola would be ineligible for clemency hearings. Sources said some numbers being tossed around would limit the number of those eligible to less than 10.

The situation reached a stalemate over the summer when a request was made by Governor John Bel Edwards, who cited his pro-life stance as a reason for why he wanted the inmates on death row to have their sentences converted to life without parole.

District attorneys around the state and the Louisiana District Attorneys Association came out against it immediately.

"It is crazy to think that a process that takes a year for an individual case, we could put 56 in the system and get a result within four months and anyone would have confidence in those results," LDAA President Loren Lampert said.

Last month, a number of district attorneys and victims gathered in Baton Rouge to announce their opposition to the proposal. Warrick Dunn, the son of murdered Baton Rouge Police Officer Betty Smothers was at the courthouse standing in unison with the district attorneys.

"It shouldn't be about this," Dunn said. "It should be about doing the right thing, and the right thing is to make sure those guys don't have the opportunity to get out. They should not be allowed period."

More details are expected to be released this week. A hearing is scheduled for tomorrow.

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