Thursday, February 21, 2008
Five men robbed a Senor Bob's Taco Hut in Fort Smith in 1981. Among them was 29-year-old Rolf Kaestel who carried a toy water pistol. No one was hurt in the robbery and the net was $264 - which was returned after a prompt arrest. Four of the robbers agreed to testify against Kaestel in exchange for a charge of simple robbery and were given a five-year suspended sentence. They then served less than 120 days in jail. Meanwhile, Kaestel opted to represent himself and was charged with aggravated robbery. With three prior convictions for robbery in the mix, the jury sentenced him to life in prison without parole and threw in a fine of $15,000. The Arkansas Supreme Court affirmed the conviction, and Kaestel (now 58) has made eight appeals for executive clemency. In 1992, the Executive Clemency Board actually gave him a favorable recommendation, but Gov. Jim Guy Tucker did not act. Kaestel's application is now supported by the very clerk he robbed! Some are concerned that Kaestel's 1999 appearance in “Factor 8,” a documentary about the Arkansas prison blood scandal, may have been costly. His relationship with prison officials has certainly been strained ever since. Afterward, he was also transferred, against his will, to another state. See story here.