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Originally published November 30, 2009 at 1:11 AM | Page modified November 30, 2009 at 12:22 PM

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Former Arkansas Gov. Huckabee has controversial record of freeing criminals

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee's record of freeing criminals from prison was controversial even before news that the man sought for questioning in the killing of four Lakewood police officers had a lengthy prison sentence commuted by Huckabee.

Seattle Times staff reporter

Coverage from the days following the Lakewood shootings

Tuesday memorial to four officers comes together swiftly

Lakewood Officer Tina Griswold was a 'ball of fire' in a tiny package

A path to murder: The story of Maurice Clemmons

Gallery | Maurice Clemmons: Path to Murder

Officer Gregory Richards was 'the golden boy'

Officer Richards' wife knew he would do his duty, no matter what

Lakewood Police Officer Ronald Owens was always smiling

Prosecutors want Clemmons' sister held in custody

Clemmons' sister taken into custody in courtroom

Clemmons repeatedly slipped through the cracks

Bank accounts may be sign Clemmons planned getaway

Lakewood Police Sgt. Mark Renninger was devoted to family, dedicated to police work

Bail-bond agents gamble on unknown

Clemmons' sister arrested during court hearing

Repeat offenders would be denied bail under measure

Nicole Brodeur | Help is coming for aunt

Clemmons traveled to meet New York minister, citing God's instructions

Clemmons' half-brother charged with helping killer elude police

Clemmons investigated by drug enforcement authorities after he moved here in 2004

More than 20,000 people expected at Tuesday's memorial for officers

Arkansas governor and Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire confer on parolees, Clemmons

Coffee shop where officers killed remains closed

Details on Tuesday memorial for four slain officers

Trusted aunt chose to do the 'right thing'

Clemmons' driver denies knowledge of plot to kill

Over 2,000 attend Lakewood vigil for 4 slain officers

Graham neighborhood embraces grieving family

Alleged accomplice used an alias

Coffee shop where officers killed remains closed

Who leaked photo of Clemmons' body? Investigations launched

Clemmons couldn't be held after 'safety net' dissolved

Calendar of memorials and vigils for slain Lakewood officers

Loyal friends, family helped Clemmons flee police

Gregoire: no more Arkansas parolees

Alleged getaway driver in officers' slaying could face murder charges

Uncle: 'He was all about money ... suddenly, he was all about God'

Routine stolen-car check led to Lakewood police-slaying suspect

Danny Westneat | Fixing blame won't fix this mess

Jerry Large | Answers more than skin deep

Public brings flowers, candles, prayers for fallen officers

E-mails show Washington state battled to keep Clemmons in custody

States at odds over warrant that might have kept Clemmons in jail

2 men charged, several others suspected of aiding alleged cop killer

Lakewood police shooting suspect shot dead by police in South Seattle early this morning

Memorial for slain officers to be next Tuesday at Tacoma Dome

Outpouring of support for families of slain officers grows

Four days in May set stage for Sunday's tragedy

Clemmons' diagnosis: stress

Persuasive appeal helped Clemmons win clemency

Political death blow for Huckabee?

How you can help

Law-enforcement officials believe Clemmons has been sheltered by family, friends

Attack on Lakewood police likely worst in state history

Slain Lakewood officers leave holes in community fabric

Furious hunt for suspect in Lakewood police slayings creates unease for black men

Grief, gratitude for slain officers

'Boom. Boom. Boom. Boom': Neighbors describe shooting of suspect

Nicole Brodeur: Breathless in Leschi — and it's not the view

RAW VIDEO: Scene where Clemmons shot by police

AUDIO | Suspect killed in Seattle

Interactive map and timeline

See the latest tweets on #WAshooting, #lakeshoot and #WAshoot

Gallery | Maurice Clemmons Killed, Community Mourns Slain Officers

Gallery | Ceda Clemmons' Damaged Home

Monday coverage

Suspect released in Arkansas after claiming he had changed

Gallery | Police search for suspected cop killer

Gallery | Lakewood police officers killed

Video | Community reflects on slain police

Video | Police shooting: Man who helped baristas

Video | SPD Det. Jeff Kappel speaks about 11-hour standoff

Brenton family statement on slain Lakewood officers

Latest on Lakewood shooting: Police searching near Dr. José Rizal Park

Police still searching for suspected cop killer

Sunday coverage

Police union sets up fund for slain officers

Former Arkansas Gov. Huckabee has controversial record of freeing criminals

Lakewood Police Department created just 5 years ago

Police again see themselves as targets

Slain officers respected for careers, family life

Lakewood police slayings appear to be worst of their kind in state history

Shocked, grieving community holds vigil for officers

Coffee house owner: Shootings 'hit close to home'

Maurice Clemmons clemency and parole documents (PDF)

Statement from Mayor Douglas Richardson and City Manager Andrew Neiditz (PDF)

City of Lakewood identifies officers (PDF)

Related links

Law justifying use of deadly force

Facebook page honoring fallen officers | Eyewitness accounts

Video | Pierce County sheriff's spokesman Ed Troyer discusses Lakewood slaying

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee's record of freeing criminals from prison was controversial even before news that the man sought for questioning in the killing of four Lakewood police officers had a lengthy prison sentence commuted by Huckabee.

The one-time Republican presidential contender granted twice as many pardons and commutations as the previous three governors of Arkansas combined, The Associated Press reported in 2007.

In all, he issued 1,033 pardons and commutations during more than 10 years as governor — an average of about one every four days.

Maurice Clemmons, the man police were searching for Sunday night, faced decades in prison for robberies and other charges when his sentence was commuted by Huckabee in 2000. Clemmons later was sent back to prison after violating parole, but was released again five years ago.

Clemmons was released from jail in Pierce County six days ago after posting bond. He'd spent the past several months in jail on a charge of child rape. His release came even though he faced seven additional felony charges in Washington state.

Huckabee issued a written statement Sunday night through his daughter and spokeswoman, Sarah Huckabee, saying the "senseless and savage execution" of the police officers "has saddened the nation."

If Clemmons is found to be responsible, Huckabee's statement said, "it will be the result of a series of failures in the criminal justice system in both Arkansas and Washington state."

The statement said Clemmons had been recommended for commutation and that his release was approved by the state parole board.

Huckabee noted that Clemmons later was arrested for parole violations but was released after prosecutors failed to press new charges that could have kept him in prison.

"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," he said.

Huckabee's clemencies became a campaign issue when he ran for the Republican presidential nomination last year. He was criticized by prosecutors and political rivals for releasing prisoners who went on to commit more crimes.

"It's a crying shame that a sitting governor would be so insensitive to victims' rights," Pulaski County Prosecuting Attorney Larry Jegley told an Arkansas newspaper, The Leader, in 2004.


In one high-profile case, castrated rapist Wayne DuMond was set free by the Arkansas parole board at Huckabee's urging, according to news accounts. DuMond later suffocated a mother of three in Missouri and was sentenced to life in prison, where he died in 2005.

A Southern Baptist preacher, Huckabee sometimes was motivated to release prisoners at the urging of pastors or other acquaintances, according to news accounts.

His clemencies also benefitted the stepson of a staff member, and even Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards, who received a pardon for a 1975 traffic offense. Huckabee, who sometimes jammed on the bass guitar with his band at campaign events, pardoned Richards after meeting him at a concert.

In an appearance on "Fox News Sunday" — before the news about Clemmons was out — Huckabee said he was leaning slightly against running for president in 2012.

Times reporter Susan Kelleher and researcher Miyoko Wolf contributed to this report, which also includes material from The Associated Press.

Jim Brunner: 206-515-5628 or

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