Colo. governor orders clemency for 33 offenders, including 7 convicted of murder
To date, the governor has pardoned 156 individuals and granted 18 commutations
By Kieran Nicholson
The Denver Post
DENVER — Gov. John Hickenlooper on Friday pardoned 21 people who have served criminal sentences and commuted the sentences of 12 others, making three parole-eligible and moving up the parole eligibility dates for nine others.
Seven of the people on the governor’s list are convicted murderers, most of who were serving life in prison without parole.
Among those convicted of murder is Nathan Ybanez. In 1999, at the age of 16, Ybanez was convicted of the murder of his mother, Julie Ybanez. In June of 1998, Ybanez and his friend, Erik Jensen, beat and strangled Julie Ybanez with a pair of fireplace tongs in her Highlands Ranch apartment. He was caught unloading his mother’s body form the trunk of her car.
In 2016, 48 Colorado inmates serving life sentences for murders they committed as teenagers got a new chance at freedom under a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that they’re eligible to be considered for parole or reduced prison time.
Both Ybanez and Jensen were among those affected by the Supreme Court ruling. But Jensen was not on Hickenlooper’s list.
Ybanez, however, was granted a limited commutation. He’ll be eligible for parole on Dec. 1, 2020. In the executive order for commutation, Hickenlooper said he believes Ybanez is “a worthy candidate for parole.”
“I strongly encourage you to grant Mr. Ybanez the opportunity to reintegrate into our Colorado community,” Hickenlooper wrote in a letter to the Colorado State Board of Parole dated Friday.
Promise Y. Lee was 15 in 1975 when he pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in El Paso County. Lee, who already had completed the terms of his sentence, was granted a “conditional pardon” by Hickenlooper. All of Lee’s rights are restored except for his firearm privileges, according to his pardon letter.
Also on Friday’s list are:
- Terrance Wilder, sentenced for first-degree murder in 1999, was a juvenile at the time. His current parole eligibility date is 2104. Friday’s commutation makes him eligible for parole in 40 years
- John P. Sherman was sentenced for first-degree murder in 1987. Eligible for parole in 2027, Hickenlooper’s order now makes him eligible July 1, 2021.
- Bruce C. Mingo was sentenced in 1999 for first-degree murder. He was not parole-eligible. He now has a parole eligibility date of Dec. 1, 2023.
- David L. Coleman was sentenced for first-degree murder in 1987. He was eligible for parole in 2026. He’ll now be eligible on Dec. 1, 2022.
- Dwight O. Anderson was sentenced in 1995 for first-degree murder to life without parole. He’ll now be eligible for parole after serving 40 years.
“Hundreds of applications for clemency have come through our office. We have selected only those where the individual has a proven track record of rehabilitation, ” Hickenlooper said in a news release. “Those granted clemency today have shown they deserve a second chance and have the support system to help them succeed.”
To date, the governor has pardoned 156 individuals and granted 18 commutations. That includes last week’s decision to grant clemency to Curtis Brooks, who has served 21 years in prison for a crime committed when he was 15.
Arapahoe County District Attorney George Brauchler, whose office prosecuted Wilder and Ybanez years ago, said Friday that since the Supreme Court’s juvenile ruling, Colorado legislators changed the law so defendants affected would face re-sentencing hearings.
In the Ybanez case, Hickenlooper jumped the gun, Brauchler said.
“He was entitled to and awaiting re-sentencing,” he said. “Now Hickenlooper said: ‘I’m not even going to let it go through court, I’m just going to cut short this guy’s prison sentence.’ ”
Brauchler also has an issue with the timing: “It feels like a big lump of coal just got dropped in the Christmas stocking this year.”