William Macumber has spent 35 years in Arizona prisons for a double murder he says he didn’t commit, and the state clemency board unanimously recommends his release, citing “a miscarriage of justice” in the case. But Gov. Jan Brewer refuses to let him go.
Macumber was convicted of the murders in 1975, after his wife – who worked at the local sheriff’s office – went to her superiors and told them her husband had confessed to an unsolved murder from 1962. She testified about this alleged confession at trial, but three other important witness were excluded by the judge – two lawyers and a psychiatrist who said a drifter had confessed to them that he committed the murder. The drifter was killed in prison before Macumber’s trial, so he couldn’t testify.
Brewer’s office hasn’t offered an explanation for the denial, other than to say that she reviewed the case thoroughly.
P. S. Ruckman Jr., a political science professor at Rock Valley College in Rockford, Ill., has been fuming about Ms. Brewer’s handling of the Macumber case. “I have been following state clemency for 30 years, and this is easily, easily the most disturbing,” he said. “It’s borderline despicable.”
“Common-sense notions of justice should compel a governor to provide an explanation for imprisoning a man deemed innocent by an official board created to make such judgments,” he added. “You don’t imprison a man for no reason.”