STATE NEWS

Pardon and Parole Board under investigation


Attorney General Mike Hunter announced the appointment of former U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Oklahoma Brian Kuester as a special counsel to investigate allegations reported to the Attorney General’s Office surrounding the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board.
 A recent triple homicide in Chickasha recently highlighted the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board’s apparent policy of recommending the release of dangerous inmates after only a short time of incarceration and seemingly disregarding the sentencing terms and wishes of the courts.
 Lawrence Paul Anderson is accused of killing a neighbor at her home in Chickasha and then going to his home and killing his uncle and a 4-year-old girl on Feb. 9.
 He also is accused of stabbing his aunt. She survived.
 The case already has sparked outrage because the repeat felon had been released early from prison in January. He had been sentenced in 2017 to serve 20 years behind bars but got out after Gov. Kevin Stitt commuted his time.
 The governor commuted the sentence to nine years at the recommendation of the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board. Anderson served a little more than three years. He had been staying with his uncle, Leon Pye, and aunt, Delsie Pye, since his release.
 “This has to be addressed by the Legislature, sooner rather than later, because more people are going to get killed,” Grady County District Attorney Jason Hicks said Feb. 11.
 The appointment of Kuester comes as the Attorney General’s Office continues to receive complaints about the manner in which the Pardon and Parole Board has conducted recent agency actions.
 Attorney General Hunter said appointing a special counsel ensures confidence and objectivity.
 “The role of the Attorney General’s Office at the Pardon and Parole Board is to represent the state in clemency hearings,” Attorney General Hunter said. “Because of this role, and several of the specific allegations surrounding the board we have received, I determined it would be best to appoint an outside counsel to look at the claims. I have worked closely with Brian on several important issues and have the utmost confidence in him. I have no doubt that he will look at the accusations and dispatch a fair, reasonable legal conclusion. Brian will also work with Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigations Director Ricky Adams and his team on the investigation. I appreciate both Brian and Director Adams for their work and look forward to these issues being resolved.”
 Kuester currently works in private law practice. Most recently, he served as the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Oklahoma, where he was appointed in 2017 and resigned earlier this year as is customary after a presidential administration change.
 Before his appointment as U.S. Attorney, he was elected in 2010 as Oklahoma’s District 27 district attorney. There, he oversaw cases in Adair, Cherokee, Sequoyah and Wagoner Counties. Kuester also previously served as an assistant district attorney in the Tulsa County District Attorney’s Office.


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