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Maurice Clemmons, a Commuted Sentence & 4 Dead Officers

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By Kamika Dunlap on December 01, 2009 2:45 PM

Former Arkansas governor/GOP presidential candidate Mike Huckabee commuted Maurice Clemmons' 95 year prison sentence in 2000.

Today, Clemmons was killed by a Seattle patrolman after allegedly commiting the horrific execution style murder of four Washington State police officers last Sunday.

Clemmons, 37, had an "extensive violent criminal history from Arkansas, including aggravated robbery and theft," the sheriff's department said in a statement.

A convicted criminal with a long rap sheet, Clemmons was given a 95-year prison sentence in Arkansas. The host of charges against him robberies, burglaries, thefts and bringing a gun to school.

Clemmons was paroled in August 2000, after serving 11 years of his sentence.

Huckabee commuted Clemmons' sentence, citing Clemmons' young age of 17 at the time the crimes were committed, according to newspaper articles.

A commuted sentence is a legal sentence adjusted to a less severe sentence. Typically, a commuted sentence comes in the form of reduced imprisonment and a reduction of penalties ordered by a judge. To get a commuted sentence, a prisoner must apply to a high-ranking government official such as the president or a governor.

Unlike a pardon, a commutation does not nullify the conviction and is often conditional.

Many question whether Huckabee made a huge mistake when he commuted Maurice Clemmons' sentence nine years ago.

The commuted sentence could have political implications for Huckabee, who is thought to be considering a presidential run in 2012.

Huckabee's office said in a statement "Should [Clemmons] be found responsible for this horrible tragedy, it will be the result of a series of failures in the criminal justice system in both Arkansas and Washington state."

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