Denver, CO - Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper pardoned Cuban immigrant Renee Lima-Marin on Friday after Lima-Marin served only a few years of a 98 year armed robbery conviction. The reason? Governor Hickenlooper wanted to prevent him from getting deported.
According to MSN, Lima-Marin came to the United States as a toddler, as part of the 1980 Mariel boat lift from Cuba, and was here legally until his 2000 conviction.
In 2000, Lima-Marin was sentenced to 98 years in prison for an armed robbery. He was released from Colorado state prison in 2008 by mistake, got married, had a child, and got a steady job. Someone in the state of Colorado realized a mistake had been made in 2014, and Lima-Marin was sent back to prison to serve the rest of his 98-year sentence.
After a judge ordered Lima-Marin released a few days ago, immigration agents arrested him on an active deportation warrant from 2000, issued under the Obama administration. His case resulted in much legal discussion, and 98 members of the State Assembly, both Democrats and Republicans, called on the Governor to grant him clemency, since his attorney said that was the only way to prevent deportation.
In a press conference, Governor Hickenlooper said that Lima-Marin had earned a second chance, apparently by being released early, while his accomplice still rots in prison.
District Attorney George Brauchler said that he and his prosecutors were not given enough time to review the pardon application as required by law. He said, "The hasty decision to ignore state law was made seemingly to skirt federal law, and that is not an appropriate use of the governor's pardon power."
ICE spokesman Carl Rusnok said that the governor's pardon would not be enough to stop Lima-Marin's deportation. He said Rene Michael Lima Marin currently has final orders of removal from a federal immigration judge.
His victims even spoke out against the pardon. Jason Kasparek, assistant manager of a Blockbuster video store that Lima-Marin and his accomplice Michael Clifton robbed, said that Lima-Marin should be in prison. He said, "I just think that it's scandalous how he used the system. I think it's completely ridiculous. It's unjust for all victims who have been involved in it."
Kasparek remembered how both robbers held a rifle to his head as they forced him to open the store safe. But the Blockbuster video store was not the only store Lima-Marin and Clifton robbed. Their convictions included multiple robbery, kidnapping, and burglary charges. Clifton is still in prison, serving his 98-year sentence.
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