Newsom commutes murderer Richard Flowers life sentence, claims he’s “turned his life around”

California governor Gavin Newsom has commuted the sentence of Richard Flowers who murdered 78 yr old Mary Garcia in 1996.

Richard Flowers had been sentenced to life in prison for the murder of 78-year-old Mary Garcia of Tulare during a burglary and robbery on Nov. 1, 1996.

Sun Gazette reports convicted Tulare County murder Richard Flowers will have an opportunity to plead his case for parole thanks to Governor Gavin Newsom.

Last week Newsom announced 21 commutations. One of those was Flowers, 64, who had been sentenced to life in prison for the murder of 78-year-old Mary Garcia of Tulare during a burglary and robbery on Nov. 1, 1996.

The California Constitution gives the Governor the authority to grant clemency, including in the form of a pardon or commutation. A clemency grant recognizes a person’s subsequent efforts in self-development. It does not forgive or minimize the harm caused by the crime. The commutation grants will allow the inmates to go before the Board of Parole Hearings for a hearing at which the Parole Commissioners determine whether the inmate is suitable for release from prison.

Tulare County District Attorney Tim Ward staunchly opposes Flowers’ commutation. In a press release on Monday, Ward said this is another example of taking decisions away from the community. He pointed to last year’s death penalty moratorium as the first example.

“Like Governor Newsom’s death penalty moratorium, we were informed of Mr. Flowers’ clemency through the news media. This is a deplorable action without any justification,” Ward said. “As I have said before, actions such as this are a travesty to victims, their families, and the men and women of this office who strive for justice every day. Once again, this action shows there is a lack of truth in sentencing in California, as a jury recommended a sentence of life without the possibility of parole. Our legal system has shown more compassion to Mr. Flowers than he ever did for his victim.”

According to the Governor’s commutation, Flowers has been serving his sentence for 25 years, but has high marks for behavior.

“Mr. Flowers participated in self-help programming and maintained consistent employment throughout his incarceration, routinely receiving exceptional work ratings from his supervisors,” the commutation statement from the Governor’s office stated.

It went on to say that correctional officers praised Flowers for his “positive attitude and work ethic noting that he, “has a good working relationship with staff and his peers … and has demonstrated skill and knowledge, genuine interest and effort in his work, teamwork and participation.”

Newsom wrote in his commutation that Flowers has “turned his life around.”

“Mr. Flowers committed a serious crime that took the life of Ms. Garcia…I have carefully considered and weighed the evidence of Mr. Flowers’s positive conduct in prison and his good prospects for successful community reentry,” Newsom wrote. “I believe that Mr. Flowers has earned the opportunity to present his case to the Board of Parole Hearings so it can determine whether he is suitable for parole.”

Read more here.