Mara Leveritt reports on her blog that Gov. Mike Beebe will not pardon Rolf Kaestel, 33 years into a life sentence for robbing a Fort Smith taco hut of $264 with a water pistol in 1981.
Beebe didn’t follow recommendations by parole boards in Arkansas and Utah, where Kaestel is imprisoned, and wasn’t moved by video testimony (above) of his victim. Dennis Schluterman, who was robbed, said Kaestel never threatened him.
Beebe refused a pardon for Kaestel in 2013 and has now made it clear he won’t revisit that decision before leaving office.
Referring to pardons, deputy spokesman Stacey Hall wrote in an email, “When we have issued them, most of them have been to address sentencing actions that seemed excessive… The governor felt that Rolf’s situation did not warrant taking action.”
Kaestel’s case has drawn attention recently in Utah, where an article asked why Arkansas was paying $28,000 a year to imprison him in Utah. He was transferred 15 years ago for noncompliance with rules, but as Leveritt notes, the circumstances are murky. Complications include Kaestel’s knowledge of a corrupt and mismanaged blood plasma program that once operated in the Arkansas prison. Kaestel had a long record before getting the life sentence in the Fort Smith case.