Tuesday, March 22, 2016
Mass.: Man who killed his rapist seeks early release
In some jurisdictions he might not have been jailed
A 22-year-old prison inmate who killed the man who molested him as a child is pleading with Governor Charlie Baker to shorten his sentence.
Marco Flores, who is serving a 15-year sentence for manslaughter for killing Jaime Galdamez in 2011, sent a request in December to the state’s parole board asking for a hearing that would allow him to make a case for early release.
“I was, and want to be again, a productive member of society, a student, a son, a brother and an uncle,” Flores wrote to the board, which reviews petitions for pardons and sentence commutations and then refers any recommendations to the governor. “I wish nothing more than your consideration so that I can achieve my heart’s desire to return to my family. ”
Flores is one of 22 inmates to seek a commutation, or sentence reduction, from Baker since he took office last year. In December 2015, Baker instituted new guidelines for who can receive a pardon or commutation. Those new guidelines state that those who have been out of prison at least 5 to 10 years and are no longer under parole supervision have the best chance at being granted a pardon, which would erase a criminal conviction.
That leaves commutation as the most realistic option for Flores, who was born in El Salvador and came to Boston when he was 6. He remained in the country on a student visa until his arrest but would now be considered an undocumented immigrant if he is released from prison, according to an immigration lawyer.
There was no one to protect Marco Flores, and, just 9 when it started, he couldn’t protect himself. But then one day he realized that others he loved were in danger, and that it was up to him to end it.
Flores can ask for a sentence reduction, but because of the felony charge he could still be deported if he is released. Officials at US Immigration and Customs Enforcement said they do not have a detainer on Flores but are tracking his case closely.
Despite the chance of deportation, Flores expressed hope that an early release from prison would allow him to pursue the goals he set for himself before his arrest, such as joining the Marines. He has set up a Facebook page to build public support for his request.
The Globe wrote about his case last May.
Suffolk prosecutors initially charged Flores with first-degree murder after he confessed to killing Galdamez, a 31-year-old cook, on May 23, 2011.
But they agreed to reduce the charge to voluntary manslaughter after it became clear Galdamez had victimized Flores since he was 9 years old.
“By the age of 15, all I had known is abuse, torture and an overwhelming fear of reaching out for help,” Flores wrote in his petition.
At 17, Flores began to suspect that Galdamez was also abusing Flores’s 6-year-old nephew.
He went to Galdamez’s East Boston apartment and strangled him, making a video of the crime.
Under Baker’s predecessor, Deval Patrick, a prisoner who could show he or she had been abused by the victim and that the abuse had led to the crime would receive special consideration for commutation. Baker undid that provision in his December reworking of the guidelines, but his new protocols do describe commutation “both as an extraordinary remedy and as an integral part of the correctional process.”
Joel Thompson, a lawyer with Prisoners’ Legal Services of Massachusetts, which represents the human and civil rights of inmates, said the phrasing gives reason for prisoners like Flores to be optimistic.
“If it’s an integral part of the process, could we expect a grant of commutation sometime before the last year of [Baker’s] last term?” Thompson asked. “I hope so.”
The parole board has received 50 petitions for pardons since Baker took office, in addition to 22 commutation requests, according to the state Executive Office of Public Safety.
The board has not sent any recommendations for pardons or commutations to Baker, said William Pitman, a Baker spokesman. He had no specific comment on Flores’s request.
Politicians are often averse to shortening the sentence of convicted killers, but Flores deserves early release, said James Budreau, a Boston lawyer who represented Flores after he was arrested.
“I think the governor and the victims rights organizations should stand behind someone like him, not just because of his exceptional circumstances,” Budreau said. “This is not a man who I believe could ever hurt anyone else in the world. He’s not a danger to anyone.”
Flores’s case is the kind that a governor should consider carefully after first gauging the feelings of the families of Flores and Galdamez and prosecutors, said Douglas Beloof, a professor at Lewis and Clark Law School in Oregon and founder of the National Crime Victim Law Institute. He has helped states and the federal government develop procedures for assisting victims of crime.
Baker is “going to have to decide — has there already been enough mitigation or is this case unusual enough that there needs to be more clemency extended to this person,” Beloof said. “If a victim kills someone who victimized him then who’s the victim? That’s the cultural challenge.”
Jake Wark, spokesman for Suffolk District Attorney Daniel F. Conley, said prosecutors would most likely oppose the petition for an early release.
“The defendant agreed to the sentence imposed at his guilty plea, which took into account the deliberate brutality of Mr. Galdamez’s homicide and the abuse the defendant suffered at his hands years earlier,” Wark said. “Had the case gone to trial, Mr. Flores could very well have been sentenced to life without parole.”
Galdamez’s relatives could not be reached for comment.
Original report here
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Posted by bussorah at 1:27 AM