Wednesday, March 12, 2014
A former Winslow man who is serving 60 years in prison for the 1986 murder of his grandfather is seeking a commutation of his sentence from the governor.
Jeffrey Libby speaks on a telephone in this 1994 photo.
Staff file photo by Ron Maxwell
Jeffrey L. Libby, 49, has a hearing before the Governor's Board on Executive Clemency on July 24.
Libby was found guilty of murder for the July 8, 1986, drowning of his grandfather, in his bathtub in Winslow.
Executive clemency is the constitutional power given exclusively to the governor that allows him to grant either a commutation of a sentence or a pardon.
Scott Fish, director of special projects at the Department of Corrections, said Libby is seeking a commutation, not a pardon. A commutation is a partial or full reduction of a sentence for someone currently serving time for a crime.
A pardon officially forgives a person for a crime, according to the Department of Corrections.
A previous petition for commutation of Libby's sentence was dismissed without a hearing in May 2010, according to a published report. In that petition, Libby said the sentencing judge was unaware of important factors in Libby's life, especially his victimization by a Catholic priest in the Archdiocese of Hartford, Conn., when he was 13 and 14.
Walter McKee, who filed the first petition, said he no longer is representing Libby.
McKee said in 2010 that Libby's case was unique because it ties a violent crime to sexual abuse by a priest.
Libby sought $15 million in damages and received an undisclosed settlement from the diocese in September 2009. He said he invested the money in stocks and in a private bank account.
Among the guidelines established to determine whether a petition for commutation of a prison sentence will be heard is that the petitioner must have served at least half of his original sentence, not including "good time" or a minimum of one year of a sentence, whichever is a longer period of time, according to the Department of Corrections website.
Libby was sentenced to 60 years in prison in 1986 and so far has served about 27 years, or less than half of the sentence.
Fish, at the Department of Corrections, said he could not comment on the specifics of the case. In exceptional cases, the Governor's Board on Executive Clemency may waive the guidelines, according to the Department of Corrections web site.
Deborah McAllian, also at the Department of Corrections, has said information on applications for a pardon or commutation, including lawyers' names, is not public until the hearing set for 9 a.m. July 24 in the governor's office in Augusta.
At the hearing, the board will have an opportunity to ask the petitioner about the application for clemency, including the reason why clemency is being sought and the circumstances surrounding the crime for which the commutation is being requested. The hearings are open to the public.
Following all of the hearings July 24 — 13 others are scheduled — the board meets in executive session to discuss the cases. The board then makes its recommendations to the governor.
The governor, who has sole responsibility for the granting or denial of executive clemency, reviews the board's recommendations and makes the final decision. The governor can accept the board's recommendation, reject the recommendation, modify the recommendation or ask the board for more information.
Petitioners are notified in writing of the governor's decision.
Doug Harlow — 612-2367