Baker commutes first-degree murder verdict of 2 Massachusetts men

As Governor of Massachusetts, Charlie Baker is empowered by the people of Massachusetts to reduce sentences and pardon individuals as he sees fit.That power was exercised today in the case of two convicted murderers.
Governor Baker has commuted the first-degree murder convictions of Thomas Koonce and William Allen to second-degree murder, the Baker-Polito government announced today in a press release.This makes everyone immediately eligible for parole.The announcement comes after the parole board, acting as a pardon advisory committee, recommended that the two men have their sentences reduced.
The Massachusetts Constitution gives the governor the power to commute or waive some criminal sentences.Governor Baker issued updated executive leniency guidelines in February 2020.You can view the updated guidelines here.
Applications for commutation are reviewed by the Pardon Advisory Committee.The board evaluates the petition, weighs the factors listed in the enforcement guidelines, and makes recommendations to the Governor.The committee had recommended that the Governor reduce the sentences of Mr Koonce and Mr Allen to second degree murder.The commutation must now be approved by a committee of governors.If approved, Mr Coons and Mr Allen will be eligible for parole hearings, and if granted parole, they will be on parole for life.
The powers that the people of Massachusetts have given me to commute and to pardon individuals is one of the most sacred and important powers in this office…In this position, it is for me to ensure that justice is done for affected individuals Important things are crimes and I have a responsibility to ensure that justice is fairly applied to all.To make these difficult decisions, I spent months carefully weighing the circumstances of these two horrific crimes, the conduct of both men since then, and the parole board’s recommendation to reduce sentences.I believe that both men are responsible for their actions and pay their debts to the Commonwealth by serving longer sentences than most people convicted of similar actions should be entitled to seek parole from prison.I hope the Governor will carefully weigh the facts of these cases and the undeniable impact on the families involved and make the same decision.~Governor Charlie Baker
Thomas Koonce, a 54-year-old former US Marine, has served 30 years in prison for the murder of Mark Santos.On 20 July 1987, Mr Coons shot out of the car window during an altercation in New Bedford, killing Mr Santos.On 23 June 1992, a Bristol High Court jury found Mr Koonce guilty of first degree murder and sentenced him to life in prison without the possibility of parole.While in prison, Mr. Koonce was involved in important programs, becoming a leader in helping other inmates benefit from some of them, and helping to establish new programs, including MCI-Norfolk’s Restorative Justice Program.Mr. Koonce earned a Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Studies, cum laude, from Boston University’s Prison Education Program.He remained active in his church and was employed throughout his incarceration.
William Allen is a 48-year-old man serving 27 years in prison for his role in the murder of Purvis Bester.On February 8, 1994, Mr. Allen and a co-defendant broke into Mr. Best’s Brockton apartment with an intent to rob him, and the co-defendant stabbed Mr. Best to death.On August 29, 1997, a Brockton Superior Court jury found Mr. Allen guilty of first-degree murder for his complicity in the robbery and sentenced him to life in prison without the possibility of parole.While incarcerated, Mr. Allen worked as a student and facilitator in important programs – including restorative justice and alternatives to violence.He is licensed as a barber, food service worker and legal clerk, has served as the Eucharist minister for the Catholic community, and has held jobs including as a companion and aide to severely mentally ill patients at Bridgewater State Hospital.

Post time: Jan-14-2022

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