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Sunday, December 09, 2007

Huckabee's Word vs. Many Witnesses

I haven't touched this story yet on our blog here because it's an obvious tragedy for everyone involved . . . but now Huck's digging in even deeper to his side of the story despite overwhelming evidence and personal testimony to the contrary. This has become more than just a tragic case, but it's looking to be a controversial look into the character of a certain surging candidate . . . and it's time that as many people as possible knew about it.
Pastor Jay D. Cole had two close friends. One was an inmate in the Arkansas state penitentiary. There, the minister would sit with Wayne DuMond "and pray and read the Bible." For a while, the prisoner's wife even lived in Cole's home.

Cole's friendship with Mike Huckabee ran deeper, back to when Huckabee was the youngest-ever head of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention. The two men produced Bible lessons on videotape. "We worked heavily with him when he got politically involved too," Cole said.

A little over 10 years ago, the paths of these three men merged in Little Rock, the state capital, where Huckabee was the new governor. With Cole's urging, and with DuMond insisting he was "born again," Huckabee played a key role in setting free a rapist who was supposed to serve many more years, say three of the seven members of the state board that paroled DuMond.

After being released, DuMond moved to Missouri, where less than a year later he suffocated the mother of three in a Kansas City suburb. Police suspect that he killed another woman there as well.

How a convicted rapist went free has become an issue in today's increasingly heated presidential campaign.

. . .

Huckabee said this week that he had "considered" -- but then rejected -- the idea of using his powers as governor to commute DuMond's sentence and release him for time served. The state parole board acted before he had to make a final call. It was the parole board, Huckabee said, that unlocked the cell door.

"It was a horrible situation, horrible. I feel awful about it in every way. I wish there was some way I could go back and reverse the clock and put him back in prison," the candidate said at a news conference this week.

Though he acknowledged discussing the case with the state parole board, Huckabee said that conversation was "simply part of a broader discussion" initiated at the request of the board chairman. "I did not ask them to do anything," he said.

Three board members recalled it differently. They said Huckabee raised the issue of DuMond's release, asking to discuss the matter with them in a closed session. They said his religious beliefs, and the influence of the evangelical community from which he came, drove him.

"We felt pressured by him," said board member Ermer Pondexter. "I felt compelled to do it. . . . It was a favor for the governor."

Looking back, she added, "I regret it."

Parole board member Deborah Springer Suttlar said Huckabee did not mince his feelings about DuMond: "He wanted him out."

A committee of board members voted to parole DuMond. It took the action just before the deadline by which Huckabee would have had to decide what assistance, if any, he would grant to an inmate whom he had already said he wanted to help.

"He thought DuMond just grew up on the wrong side of the tracks, that he may have gotten a raw deal and a longer sentence than others under similar circumstances," recalled board member Charles Chastain, who said he was the lone dissenter in a 4-1 committee vote to grant parole.

All seven members of the board had been appointed by Huckabee's Democratic predecessors.

The board chairman declined to comment; one board member could not be reached and one said he did not remember details of the case. A seventh member is deceased.
So 3 board members say this was Huckabee's doing, with none of the seven agreeing with Huckabee. Also, the pastor Jay Cole obviously admits to pushing Huckabee in this direction.
"There will be people who will probably be brought forth to make statements but, you know, I can't fix it," he said. "I can only tell the truth and let the truth be my judge."

Cole, the minister who befriended DuMond, said: "The governor felt compassion for Wayne. He was sorry for him. So, I asked the governor to help. I asked him if anything could be done. And Mike had a lot of people on his neck trying to get him to get Wayne released."

"Many of them," Cole added, "were in the Christian community."
After detailing the grizzly details of the rape he committed, the castration he received while awaiting trial, and his sentencing the article continues . . .
Once in prison, DuMond said he found religion.

"I became his spiritual director," Cole said. "He was a nice fella, and it was hard to believe he could have done what he was accused of doing. And Wayne claimed to be saved. So, we'd sit and talk and pray for two hours, and other times he'd call me on the phone a lot. Collect. He was just wanting to know if I'd made any headway finding people who could help his situation."

. . .

Cole, meanwhile, was working to help DuMond. Cole said he talked to "probably a hundred people" about his hope of winning DuMond's release, turning foremost to the evangelical community. He said many evangelicals were encouraged that DuMond had claimed a religious conversion, and that many joined Cole in writing to Huckabee about DuMond's situation.

The clincher, he said, was their belief that DuMond had been "saved."

"All of them thought Wayne was innocent," said Cole. "And the governor knew about it. We talked about it together. But Mike was very careful. He was cautious about saying too much. In an elevated position like governor, you've got to be careful."

Huckabee said the DuMond case was already "on my desk" when he became governor in July 1996. He announced that he was considering a commutation. Later, he acknowledged, he wrote a letter to the prisoner saying parole was a better option.

"Dear Wayne. . . . My desire is that you be released from prison," the governor wrote. "I feel now that parole is the best way. . . ."

The rape victim, Ashley Stevens, became enraged. She and prosecutor Fletcher Long met with Huckabee at the Capitol. They warned him that DuMond would strike again.

At one point in the meeting, Stevens recalled, she stood up, put her face next to Huckabee's and told the governor: "This is how close I was to DuMond. I'll never forget his face, and you'll never forget mine."

The meeting ended, and Long, a Republican, could tell the governor was unmoved: "Most of what I think about him would be unprintable. His actions were just about as arrogant as you can get."

The prosecutor added that Huckabee and Arkansas evangelicals were conned by DuMond's contention that he had been "saved" -- a common ruse by prisoners.

"If you're religiously converted," Long said, "how do you go out and kill two women in Missouri?"
A very good question Mr. Long.

Other rape victims of Dumond also wrote letters to then Gov Huckabee stating that they feard for their lives if he was released. More details on this horrendous case can be found here (with the documents available). Unfortunately, Huckabee ignored their claims and fears . . . obviously trusting his inner circle of pastor friends that Dumond had been "Born Again." This is disturbing on so many levels.

Also, see this YouTube video of the Good Morning America report of this case.



And if you don't think that this is anything but a Huck's word vs. the parole board's word then check out this YouTube video of Huck on Meet The Press.



Now some will be apt to believe one GOP Baptist Minister over a cadre of Democrats . . . but to them I submit that this isn't the first time that Huck's fibbed (or flat out lied) about his record (see here and here). I'm sure he's a good man, but he's a politician too.

Comments? Concerns?

3 comments:

Bob Waters said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bob Waters said...

Jeff, this is nothing less than disgusting. Huckabee has denied only that three parole board members of the opposite party whom he had refused to reappoint were telling the truth when they "remembered" six years later- when Huckabee was running for President- that Huckabee had twisted their arms, poor dears, and compelled them to parole Durmond. If you believe that... well, you're a great deal more gullible than I think you are.

Huckabee has denied none of the facts you relate. He has accurately pointed out that other than expressing a desire that Durmond- who had seemingly been rehabilitated- be released, he did literally nothing to make that happen. He did not have the power to do so. And again, if you seriously believe that three parole board members from the Clinton/Tucker gang would be eager to accommodate a new Republican governor in this matter, you can only be speaking from partisan animus.

Contrast what is increasingly becoming your attack blog, btw, with Huckabee's determined efforts not to attack Mitt Romney- and the smears those very efforts have earned him from the Romney camp.

You're panicking, Jeff- and you're burning bridges Mitt Romney might later wish were still standing. Better to follow Huckabee's lead, and obey Ronald Reagan's "Eleventh Commandment" about speaking ill of other Republicans.

Anonymous said...

So what about the other 11 murderers who were granted clemency by Huckabee?