O’Malley Denies Freedom To Seven Lifers

Thursday, March 17, 2011 – Robert Lang
Governor Martin O’Malley has denied the requests of seven men serving life sentences who are seeking to be set free.

The Maryland Parole Commission had recommended that all seven men be released, but under current law, the governor makes the final decision on whether the inmate is set free.

A denial for each man is included in separate one page letters dated Wednesday that were sent to David Blumberg, chairman of the Maryland Parole Commission.

The governor does not offer any explanation for his decision in the letters.  His spokesman, Shaun Adamec told WBAL News that he would not comment on his decision.

These are the first commutation decisions O’Malley has made since taking office in 2007.

The seven men whose release was denied range in age from 55 to 73. 

Six of the men were convicted of murder, and sentenced to life in prison.  A seventh was sentenced to life in prison after being convicted of rape.

The Baltimore Sun reports that six were from Baltimore City.  One was from Prince George’s County.

Those denied commutation by the governor include Yusuf Rasheed (a.k.a. Joseph Westry) who was convicted of murdering his ex-wife and her boyfriend in 1975 in Baltimore.   Rasheed is 70-years-old. 

The governor also denied commutation requests from 60-year-old Calvin Ash, convicted of killing his ex-wife’s boyfriend in 1972; 68-year-old David Brown; 55-year-old Charles Chappell who was convicted in the 1977 murder of a drug dealer in Baltimore; 61-year-old Clarence Cowan convicted of murder in Baltimore; 60-year-old Edward Levicy (a.k.a) Salim Shabazz; and 73-year-old Lee Moore.

O’Malley is still reviewing the commutation requests of 43 other inmates.

By comparison, Robert Ehrlich commuted six inmates serving life sentences when he was governor.  Parris Glendening commuted six.  William Donald Schaefer ordered 36 inmates released.  Harry Hughes commuted 64. Marvin Mandel commuted 92 inmates.

News of Governor O’Malley’s decisions came Thursday, the same day the Senate Judiciary Proceedings Committee approved a bill that would give the governor 180 days to act on a parole commission recommendation that an inmate be released, otherwise the inmate would be automatically released.

Last week, the House of Delegates approved a bill setting a 90-day deadline for the governor’s decision.


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