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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2004

    IA - Lester Givhan, 40, shot to death, Waterloo, 20 July 1974


    WATERLOO, Iowa (AP) — Dozens of residents have packed a conference room [Wed.] in Waterloo, Iowa, to weigh in on whether the governor should free an inmate widely credited with turning his life around after committing a 1974 murder.

    The room at the Black Hawk County Courthouse is overflowing as the Iowa Board of Parole begins to gather input on whether Gov. Terry Branstad should commute the life sentence of 66-year-old Rasberry Williams so he can be released on parole.

    The parole board has already recommended that Branstad approve Williams' application for commutation. But Branstad says he wants to hear from the public in the community where Williams' crime happened.

    Williams shot a neighbor outside a Waterloo pool hall after an argument over a gambling debt.

    Branstad has until May to make a decision...........

    Williams' supporters, however, argue the governor should show leniency to reward a remarkable rehabilitation. Prison officials describe Williams as a model inmate who got an education in prison, mentored scores of young offenders and served as a fixture in programs where he warned young people to avoid trouble. And, in what officials call his most noteworthy act, he once intervened to save the lives of prison guards who had been taken hostage by another inmate............

    Much more at 3 page article...

    "The further we (as the human race) grow away from the natural world, the quieter the natural world becomes and the more pathological we become as a culture."........Bernie Krause

    The citizens of the United States of America have a right to applaud themselves for having given to mankind examples of an enlarged and liberal policy—a policy worthy of imitation......which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance.......George Washington

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Iowa (again!), formerly Florida, Land of the Sun
    Williams was convicted in the death of his next-door neighbor, 40-year-old Lester Givhan. The two began arguing over a $30 debt at a pool hall, and when Givhan refused to pay, Williams waited outside, confronted Givhan and shot him once. Williams turned himself into police hours later.

    Givhan had a gun in his pocket, and the then-28-year-old Williams claimed he acted in self-defense. "I had to stand my ground," he told the parole board in January. He said he worried Givhan would've killed him, according to a transcript obtained by The Associated Press through the public records law.

    But jurors didn't buy that, and even Williams' defense lawyer, Wallace Parrish, said he was guilty.

    "When you have facts like that, it was like getting hit on the head with a hammer," Parrish said. "You had him lying in wait, you had intent. There was no defending that.It was like he read a book on the elements of first-degree murder, and went out and committed each element deliberately."
    Right now I can't decide one way or the other if Mr. Williams should have his sentence commuted or not. I'm a little shocked to see his defense lawyer say there was no way to defend his client. I'm still learning a lot about Iowa law in my paralegal classes, but I'm thinking it's not a good idea to be on public record saying your client is guilty and there's no defense available. It makes me wonder if his lawyer thought like that from the beginning and if he tried to do everything he could for his client?

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    He should get SOME sort of recognition for this:

    And, in what officials call his most noteworthy act,
    he once intervened to save the lives of prison guards who had been taken hostage by another inmate.

    Not many inmates would do THAT.
    I wouldn't want to be the one making this decision.
    However... saving the lives of officers while incarcerated?
    That deserves some sort of reward.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    From July 2014:


    Iowa officials say a Waterloo man whose life sentence for murder was commuted by the governor has been released from prison.

    Records show Rasberry Williams was paroled effective Monday. The state Department of Corrections confirmed the information. Williams' release comes after the Iowa Board of Parole granted his parole in April...

    The newspaper reports Williams will be paroled to a care facility, but additional information was not released.

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