Former Gov. Frank Murkowski pardoned a select handful of individuals in his last days in office, among them the son of a state employee the governor had appointed.
"You have exhibited positive behavior and positive attitude since this incident," Murkowski wrote in a Nov. 30, 2006, letter pardoning Ryan Angelo Sargento of a misdemeanor theft charge. "I want to assist you in continuing to be a productive, contributing member to your family and community. I trust you will not abuse the purpose of this extraordinary action."
Sargento, 28, now has been charged with first-degree murder in the death of 30-year-old John Lee Taylor Jr., who was shot in Mountain View on June 2.
Police found a bag of suspected drugs and 9 mm shell casings at the shooting scene, and witnesses told investigators the dispute may have started after Taylor sought out Sargento because he had Taylor's cell phone, according to police.
Nothing in court and pardon records suggest that Taylor's death might have been avoided had Sargento not been pardoned in 2006, although Sargento has had continual problems with the law since the pardon.
The pardon, however, would have been handled much differently today under reforms since enacted.
Sargento was 18 years old in 2000, when he was charged with second-degree theft and forgery, according to court records. He pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor third-degree theft charge, and the court documents show he spent nearly six months at the Military Youth Academy, completed his GED certificate and paid his share of $1,300 in restitution for the crime.
In the ensuing years, the conviction deprived him of opportunities, his mother, Elsa Sargento, wrote in a Nov. 21, 2006, letter to Murkowski urging her son's pardon.
"Every time he seeks for employment he's denied because of this conviction on his record. Please Governor, help my son better his life and grant him absolute pardon," Elsa Sargento wrote.
The same day, she penned a less formal note to Murkowski's wife, Nancy, on Department of Commerce letterhead. Elsa was working as executive director of the Alaska State Community Service Commission, a position that Murkowski appointed her to.
"Mrs. Murkowski, welcome back!" she wrote. "Here's more information about the issue I've talked to you before you left for Taiwan. Please help and hope the Governor will grant my request."
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