pardons 35 people, reduces sentences for 26 more
By ED WHITE, Associated Press
DETROIT, Dec. 21, 2018 (AP): Gov. Rick Snyder pardoned 35
people with criminal convictions and reduced the prison
sentences of 26 others, his office said Friday. Snyder's office
released a list of names late in the afternoon but refused to
provide any other details.
A pardon erases a criminal conviction, while a
commutation reduces a sentence but doesn't get rid of the
conviction. In a statement, Snyder said he ``took great time and
care'' in making decisions after cases were screened by the
Corrections Department and the state parole board. The governor
leaves office on Jan. 1.
The pardons include Usama ``Sam'' Hamama, a grocery store
manager from West Bloomfield. He's the lead plaintiff in a
lawsuit challenging the federal government's effort to deport
Iraqi nationals who have criminal records. He was convicted of
assault and other crimes decades ago.
``This was a man who 30 years ago made a mistake,'' attorney
William Swor said. ``He served time for it. And when he came
out, he built a real life. He built a life that any one of us
would envy. He has given back to his community many-fold.''
Snyder commuted the sentence of John Topie, a retired
high school basketball coach who won more than 400 games in
Michigan's Thumb region. He was sentenced to at least five years
in prison in 2017 for demanding fentanyl during an armed robbery
at a pharmacy. He blamed his crime on addiction.
Snyder reduced the life sentence of Melissa Chapman, who
has spent 30 years in prison for first-degree murder in Genesee
County. She was present when a boyfriend killed another man in
1987 and admits that she helped him get rid of the body. But
Chapman said her boyfriend had threatened to kill her.
life sentence was also reduced. She's been in prison since 1980
for murder in Kent County.
Snyder commuted the sentences of others serving life terms for
murder, including Demetrius Favors, 72, who has been in
prison for 51 years.
A commutation doesn't mean an instant release from prison, but
it typically makes someone eligible for parole. The parole board
would then decide when to release a prisoner.