Mike Huckabee In the Eye of a Storm
by Charles Lemos, Sun Nov 29, 2009 at 07:54:57 PM EST
Former Arkansas Governor and 2008 GOP Presidential runner up Mike Huckabee is in the eye of a storm after police in Washington state reported that a person of interest and wanted for questioning in relation to the ambush killing of four uniformed policemen in Lakewood was granted clemency in 2000 by Governor Huckabee. From the Seattle Times:
Maurice Clemmons, the 37-year-old Tacoma man being sought for questioning in the killing this morning of four Lakewood police officers, has a long criminal record punctuated by violence, erratic behavior and concerns about his mental health.
Nine years ago, then-Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee granted clemency to Clemmons, commuting his lengthy prison sentence over the protests of prosecutors.
"This is the day I've been dreading for a long time," Larry Jegley, prosecuting attorney for Arkansas' Pulaski County said tonight when informed that Clemmons was being sought for questioning in connection with the killings.
Clemmons' criminal history includes at least five felony convictions in Arkansas and at least eight felony charges in Washington. The record also stands out for the number of times he has been released from custody despite questions about the danger he posed.
Huckabee, who ran for the Republican presidential nomination last year, issued a statement tonight calling the slaying of the police officers "a horrible and tragic event."
If Clemmons is found responsible, "it will be the result of a series of failures in the criminal justice system in both Arkansas and Washington State," Huckabee said.
He added that Clemmons' release from prison had been reviewed and approved by the Arkansas parole board.
Clemmons had been in jail in Pierce County for the past several months on a pending charge of second-degree rape of a child. He was released from custody just six days ago, even though was staring at seven additional felony charges in Washington state.
Clemmons posted $15,000 with a Chehalis company called Jail Sucks Bail Bonds. The bondsman, in turn, put up $150,000, securing Clemmons' release on the pending child-rape charge.
Blaming Mike Huckabee for this tradegy is, I think, excessive but I am sure that won't stop the conservative blogosphere. Of more concern than what took place nine years ago when Governor Huckabee commuted a 203-year sentence for various crimes including robbery, theft of property and possession of a handgun committed by a then 18 year old is the response of Washington state officials given the recent erratic and delusional behavior of a now 37 year old Maurice Clemmons.
Clemmons lives in Tacoma, where he has run a landscaping and power-washing business out of his house, according to a police interview with his wife earlier this year.
He was married, but the relationship was tumultuous, with accounts of his unpredictable behavior leading to at least two confrontations with police earlier this year.
During the confrontation in May, Clemmons punched a sheriff's deputy in the face, according to court records. As part of that incident, he was charged with seven counts of assault and malicious mischief.
In another instance, Clemmons was accused of gathering his wife and young relatives around at 3 or 4 in the morning and having them all undress. He told them that families need to "be naked for at least 5 minutes on Sunday," a Pierce County sheriff's report says.
"The whole time Clemmons kept saying things like trust him, the world is going to end soon, and that he was Jesus," the report says.
As part of the child-rape investigation, the sheriff's office interviewed Clemmons' sister in May. She told them that "Maurice is not in his right mind and did not know how he could react when contacted by Law Enforcement," a sheriff's report says.
"She stated that he was saying that the secret service was coming to get him because he had written a letter to the President. She stated his behavior has become unpredictable and erratic. She suspects he is having a mental breakdown," the report says.
Deputies also interviewed other family members. They reported that Clemmons had been saying he could fly and that he expected President Obama to visit to "confirm that he is Messiah in the flesh."
Prosecutors in Pierce County were sufficiently concerned about Clemmons' mental health that they asked to have him evaluated at Western State Hospital. Earlier this month, on Nov. 6, a psychologist concluded that Clemmons was competent to stand trial on the child-rape and other felony charges, according to court records.
Clemmons moved Washington in 2004, after being released from prison in Arkansas, state Department of Corrections records indicate. That would mean he had gone five years or so before landing in serious trouble with authorities here, according to a review of his criminal record.
Governor Huckabee is well-known for his acts of clemency. A report by the Arkansas Leader showed that between 1996 and 2004, Huckabee helped to free more Arkansas prisoners than were freed from all of Arkansas' six neighboring states-combined. In all, Governor Huckabee pardoned 703 prisoners compared to 216 in Louisiana and just 24 in Mississippi during that 8 year span. In 2004, The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette concluded that "9 percent of the prisoners who benefited from Huckabee's clemencies ended up in prison again."