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Opinion: Huckabee on parole of suspect in Seattle cop killings

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As The Times and others have reported, the man police are seeking in the shooting deaths of four Seattle officers this weekend had a 95-year prison sentence in Arkansas commuted by then-Gov. Mike Huckabee following the man’s parole in 2000.

Maurice Clemmons, the suspect, continued to evade police today. He has been described as having a long and violent criminal history in Arkansas. (Follow latimes.com for the latest developments in the hunt for the gunman.)

In a statement Sunday, Huckabee blamed Clemmons’ situation on ‘a series of failures in the criminal justice system in both Arkansas and Washington state.’ In the statement Huckabee does not mention his role in handling Clemmons’ case. Here is the former governor’s statement, as prepared for his website:

The senseless and savage execution of police officers in Washington State has saddened the nation, and early reports indicate that a person of interest is a repeat offender who once lived in Arkansas and was wanted on outstanding warrants here and Washington State. The murder of any individual is profound tragedy, but the murder of a police officer is the worst of all murders in that it is an assault on every citizen and the laws we live within. Should he be found to be 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. He was recommended for and received a commutation...

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... of his original sentence from 1990, making him parole eligible and was paroled by the parole board once they determined he met the conditions at that time. He was arrested later for parole violation and taken back to prison to serve his full term, but prosecutors dropped the charges that would have held him. It appears that he has continued to have a string of criminal and psychotic behavior but was not kept incarcerated by either state. This is a horrible and tragic event and if found and convicted the offender should be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law. Our thoughts and prayers are and should be with the families of those honorable, brave, and heroic police officers.

-- Steve Padilla


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