Among last-minute orders, Obama commutes ex-soldier's death sentence

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U.S. Disciplinary barracks at Fort Leavenworth, Kan. (COURTESY OF THE U.S. ARMY)
U.S. Disciplinary barracks at Fort Leavenworth, Kan. (COURTESY OF THE U.S. ARMY)

Among last-minute orders, Obama commutes ex-soldier's death sentence

by: Tribune Washington Bureau | .
Tribune Washington Bureau | .
published: January 19, 2017

WASHINGTON (Tribune News Service) — Among a last-minute flurry of orders, President Barack Obama on Tuesday issued 64 pardons and commuted sentences for 209 people, including the death sentence of Dwight J. Loving.

Since taking office, Obama has commuted prison sentences for 1,385 people, more than any other president and more than the last 12 presidents combined, according to the White House. Most of the commutations and pardons were for inmates held for decades.

Loving, a former Army private convicted of killing two taxicab drivers in 1988, had his sentence commuted to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Now 47, the former Fort Hood soldier was sentenced in 1996 on two counts of premeditated murder and one count of attempted murder, according to the Houston Chronicle.

Army Pvt. Christopher Fay, 20, a 13th Corps Support Command soldier and part-time Killeen cab driver, and retired Master Sgt. Bobby Sharbino, 44, were found dead in their taxis on Dec. 12 and 13th from gunshot wounds. Howard Harrison 28, another cab driver was injured when he struggled with Loving in his cab, the newspaper reported. Harrison managed to escape after knocking the gun from Loving’s hand.

Loving is one of six military inmates on death row at Fort Leavenworth. The military carried out its last execution in 1961.

Other military-related cases were:
• Peter Dwight Heidgerd: The former Army captain was convicted of conduct unbecoming an officer at a U.S. Army court-martial. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that he was convicted in 1989 of having a homosexual relationship with another soldier and served a year in prison. Obama granted him a pardon.

• James Gordon Christmas III: The soldier was convicted of uttering worthless checks and wrongful use of cocaine in a U.S. Army court-martial.  Obama granted him a pardon.

The Washington Post contributed to this report.

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