By Katie Nilsson
ROCKFORD (WREX) - An Arizona man with Rockford ties is still in prison for a crime the Clemency Review Board there says he didn't commit. William Macumber was sent to prison in 1975, part of his family lives in Rockford now and is fighting for his release.
Macumber's brother Robert and his wife have lived in Rockford for the last four years. They're trying to figure out why Arizona Governor Jan Brewer denied the recommendation from the Clemency Board for William's release. They say she's never given them a reason for it. "She was quoted as saying it was a personal reason that she had no comment and to this day we have no idea what the personal reason is."
William Macumber was convicted of killing two people in an Arizona desert back in 1975. He was sent to prison for life without the possibility of parole. Macumber's denied involvement in the killings and his family thinks William's ex-wife set him up. "My father and I both looked at all the evidence in the trial first hand at the sheriff's office and there was nothing in there that really could have convicted Bill it was basically on his wife's testimony."
She worked for an Arizona Sheriff's Department and testified William told her he killed the couple. But according to the Clemency Board who reviewed the case last year, another man Ernesto Valenzuela told his lawyer he did it. In a letter Clemency Board Chairman and Executive Director Duane Belcher wrote to Governor Brewer, the board also agreed some of the testimony wasn't reliable and neither was the evidence presented at his trial. That's why the board unanimously recommended Macumber be released because they say he's innocent. "It's a very rare thing for them to recommend clemency, and it's even more rare, it's freakishly rare for them to recommend clemency on the grounds of innocence," says Rock Valley College Professor and clemency expert P.S. Ruckman, Jr. He thinks the governor owes the Macumber family an explanation for her denial.
Ruckman thinks Brewer's lack of response to the case may be political as she's running for re-election. "We just had that Mike Huckabee scenario a couple months back and Huckabee took a big beating for that, I think unfairly. But he did commute a sentence on the base of a recommendation by a parole board and the person 10 or 15 years later murdered some police officers. I wouldn't identify that as a cause of Brewer's hesitancy, but I would say it's a factor."
I tried calling Governor Brewer's office for comment, but no one called back.
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