John Fetterman (D.PA), a freshman senator, brought a convict murderer to the State of the Union Address on Tuesday. The convict received a commuted sentence thanks in large part to Pennsylvania’s Board of Pardons, which Fetterman used to oversee.
According to Breitbart News, Dennis Horton and his brother Lee Horton were found guilty of second degree murder in 1993. The shooting occurred during a Philadelphia robbery. Both men maintained their innocence during their nearly 30-year-long prison sentences, before being granted clemency. Tom Wolf (D-PA) in 2021 at the recommendation of the state’s five-person Board of Pardons, chaired by then-Lt. Gov. Fetterman.
We’re ready. #SOTU https://t.co/kPcsNZFeUO pic.twitter.com/PGeCRrFWq7
— Senator John Fetterman (@SenFettermanPA) February 8, 2023
Under his leadership, the Governor’s tenure was marked by a surge in recommendations for Wolf-clemency and life sentence commutations. He received 46 of these recommendations. Philadelphia Inquirer’s Julia Terruso wrote last year.
“That’s compared with just six in Wolf’s first term, none under former Republican Gov. Tom Corbett’s one term, and only five during former Democratic Gov. Ed Rendell’s eight years in office,” Terruso wrote in May.
Terruso first reported that Fetterman would bring Horton to the State of the Union Monday. Fetterman later sent a tweet saying that he had made the following statement to the outlet.
Dennis and Lee’s imprisonment for a crime that they didn’t commit was a reminder of what we must do to ensure our criminal justice system is fair and equitable. As your U.S. Senator, I was a champion for the commutations of Dennis and Lee and many others. Senator, I will keep pushing for the right to second chance for all who are deserving. It is not right to be a society that glorifies vengeance. We need to be one of redemption.
I’m honored & privileged to introduce Dennis “Freedom”Horton is my guest on the #SOTU.
Dennis Horton was held for almost 28 years with his brother Lee Horton for a criminal act they never committed. https://t.co/zDudagnnbW
— Senator John Fetterman (@SenFettermanPA) February 7, 2023
A 2021 appeal filing in the Superior Court of Pennsylvania cited the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County summary of “the facts underlying [Dennis] Horton’s convictions.” It reads as follows:
Evidence at trial showed that Horton was accompanied by Lee Horton (his brother) on May 31, 1993.“Lee”), and a co-conspirator Robert Leaf (“Leaf”) robbed Filito’s Bar located at 5th Street and Hunting Park Avenue. The robbery took place during the following: [Horton]Samuel Alemo was shot multiple times by a man who had a gun. Alemo died later from gunshot wounds. [Horton]Luz Archella, her daughter Luz Martinez were also gunned down. While Lee was taking money from patrons of the bar, Leaf wielded what looked like a gun. Three men left the bar and fled in a black car. Police were able to get a partial number and the description of the car from a passerby. Radio calls were sent, with a description and vehicle information as well as the four last digits of license plates. Shortly after the incident, a police officer saw the car and located it. [Horton]His companions were also taken into custody A.22-caliber semiautomatic rifle and a black pellet pistol were found by the police under the seat of the vehicle’s front. Ballistics testing identified the rifle as the same weapon used during the robbery at Filito’s. [Horton]Lee, Leaf and Leaf were both wearing orange sweatshirts when he was arrested. Martinez and Miguel DeJesus took them to the hospital, where Martinez and Martinez identified themselves as the robbers.
As the police arrived, they claimed to have picked up Leaf just seconds before the officers began the traffic stop. Ask for moreNotified in September 2020. Leaf was discovered in the backseat of the rifle, which according to the summary was the.22 caliber.
The Superior Court ultimately upheld the lower court’s ruling that dismissed Horton’s appeal.
A vote of 4-0 was cast by the Board of Pardons to recommend clemency for Hortons in December 2020. Wolf then granted the request. In February 2021, the former governor announced commuted sentences for the pair and 11 other convicted murderers, all of whom received clemency recommendations from Fetterman’s Board of Pardons.
“These 13 individuals have served time for their crimes and deserve now a second chance,”Wolf stated. “They now have a chance to begin a life outside of prison that I hope is fulfilling for each of them.”
“Each of these Pennsylvanians is fully deserving of the chance to return to their families and start a new life,”Fetterman said in the release. Federal records reveal that Fetterman’s brothers started receiving payment for their efforts on the Fetterman campaign several months later.
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