Governor Tom Wolf granted clemency Thursday to 13 life-sentenced people. He commuted the lifers to lifetime parole, allowing them to be released from prison, according to Lt. Gov. John Fetterman.
A Samntha Melamed report for the Philadelphia Inquirer said that the people granted clemency include Philadelphia brothers Dennis and Lee Horton, who have long maintained their innocence in a robbery shooting, and Avis Lee, who was a teenager when she served as a lookout for a robbery that turned fatal.
Lee Horton’s wife, Joanna, said the day had been a rollercoaster: Lee told her that they’d been granted clemency, and that they had also both tested positive for the coronavirus.
They’re coming home. 😭
Pennsylvania believes in a 2nd Chance.
— John Fetterman (@JohnFetterman) February 11, 2021
Nancy Leichter, daughter of Leonard Leichter, who died in 1980, of a heart attack brought on by the terror of a gunpoint carjacking said to the Inquirer that when she realized that two young African-American men were still in prison 40 years later for his death, even after the ringleader in the crime was paroled, that was something unacceptable for her.
You can read: Danielle Outlaw: “I have no intentions of resigning”
“They committed a terrible crime, but they don’t deserve to die in prison,” she said. “I think people are more than the worst thing they’ve ever done.”
Fetterman, who has pushed to expand access to clemency, called the releases a career highlight. “That they’re going to go home, it’s amazing. Between just the Evans and the Horton brothers, it’s almost 140 years of incarceration, almost all of it unnecessary,” he said. “I’m so happy for their families. They get their husbands back. They get their brothers back. They get their fathers back.”
The Lieutenant Governor advocated the release of the Evans brothers, as well as Francisco Mojica and a fourth man, George Trudel. Fetterman learned of their cases in an Inquirer article about how felony murder rules in Pennsylvania can leave even peripheral accomplices to serve decades longer than the perpetrator in murder cases.
“I’m proud to say that every person featured in that article is going home,” said Fetterman about the clemency granted people.