Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Oklahoma: Larry Yarbrough

Larry Yarbrough has been married to the same woman for 46 years. They have 5 children and 13 grandchildren. According to ALTERNET, once upon a time, Larry and his wife owned and operated "a popular BBQ restaurant in Kingfisher where he was known for giving back to his community."

But Yarbrough - who declares his innocence (see video above) - was "automatically" sentenced to life without parole in 1997, after committing his sixth felony. He had a single ounce of cocaine on him, but also had two prior felony convictions for marijuana distribution and receiving stolen property.

Some say the trial was "marred by charges of jury tampering, destruction of evidence, blatant racism and good-old-boy nepotism. Even those on the jury have spoken out on his behalf." Oklahoma State Senator Constance N. Johnson has been a vocal support of clemency on behalf of Yarbrough. In 2011, she said:
“We have murderers, rapists and child molesters getting paroled, but here is a husband, father, grandfather, business owner and community servant who could spend half his life in prison costing the state millions of dollars ... We have people serving less time for greater amounts of drugs than what Mr. Yarbrough was convicted of—an ounce of cocaine and three marijuana cigarettes. Surely 17 years is a long enough punishment for his crime. In the name of justice and common sense, I urge Governor Fallin to accept the Board’s recommendations.”
Attorney General Scott Pruitt opposed the State's Pardon and Parole Board, because:
“[Yarbrough was] a drug trafficker who pumped LSD, cocaine and marijuana into a community for more than 10 years [and] is not someone who made one bad choice and deserves a second chance; he is a five-time felon who was given multiple chances to do the right thing and continued to bring drugs, theft and intimidation into an Oklahoma community.”
Governor Mary Fallin denied a request for commutation of sentence, in 2011, after it was recommended by the Board in a 3-2 vote. But Fallin granted Yarbrough executive clemency on March 18, 2016. During his 22 years in prison, he "never had a single write-up" and "received commendations from the Department of Corrections and nonprofits for training guide dogs for the blind and disabled." It is reported that the medical cost "of taking care of Larry" - last year - "was estimated to be over a million dollars." See full story here.

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