Families of victims criticize governor as he defends decision to commute 57 death row sentences

Families of victims criticize governor as he defends decision to commute 57 death row sentences

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LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Governor Steve Sisolak is criticizing a judge’s decision preventing him from trying to commute the sentences of all Nevada inmates currently on death row.

Instead of an execution, the governor was hoping to grant those inmates life without parole.

Yet, families of the victims and several district attorneys successfully sued. The families were upset at Tuesday’s pardons board meeting, saying state officials tried to railroad through a proposal to commute sentences.

The Democratic governor, however, said his action was intended as an act of grace before leaving office.

“As structured, the system does not work. That is clear to me the state has not carried out an execution since 2006, which means families of the victims are held in limbo,” Sisolak said.

Last week, the outgoing governor got an agenda item added to the Board of Pardons meeting, which meets quarterly. It would’ve commuted the death sentences of the current 57 inmates awaiting execution.

“The board of pardons serves a unique purpose based on the principles of mercy and decency,” Sisolak said. “Granting clemency is an act of grace.”

Yet, families of loved ones murdered by death row inmates were not on board.

Tehron Boldon, the brother of Michael Boldon, who was killed by Ammar Harris, spoke to 8 News Now last week.

Harris was sentenced to death after killing Michael along with two others on the Las Vegas Strip in 2013.

Tehron let the governor know how he felt about his decision to commute sentences on Tuesday.

“It was a stab in the face and a slap and I’m extremely hurt. I have not been able to sleep,” Boldon said.

Kenny Cherri also lost his life at the hands of Harris, who shot him as he was driving on the Strip in 2013.

The shooting triggered a crash that led to the two other deaths, including Boldon’s.

Cherri’s father said Harris has to be killed for his family to have a chance at getting closure.

“They want to give this guy a second chance? He didn’t give my son a second chance,” Kenneth Cherri, Sr. expressed.

He also criticized the governor for not consulting families prior to making the decision.

“I hope this new governor [Joe Lombardo] starts firing this chamber up and starts doing what needs to be done, so I can come down there and witness this guy who killed my son, watch him die,” Cherri, Sr. added.

In his Monday night decision, the Carson City district judge said the pardons board failed to properly notify the families of victims at least 15 days prior to Tuesday’s meeting.

Some of the families said they were only given a few days to prepare.

Nevada has only executed 12 people since 1977.

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