Any political ambitions of former Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee could be hurt by his role in freeing Maurice Clemmons, the gunman suspected in the execution murders of four police officers in Washington State -- especially since Clemmons would not be the first criminal Huckabee helped to free who later committed murder.
Clemmons was serving 95 years when Huckabee, then governor of Arkansas, commuted his sentence in 2000. Clemmons is now being sought in the murders of four Lakewood, Wash. police officers, who were ambushed and shot in a coffee shop Sunday morning.
Four years earlier, Huckabee also pushed for the parole of rapist Wayne Dumond despite chilling testimonies from victims and their relatives that he was a dangerous criminal who would strike again. Ashley Stevens, a 17-year-old cheerleader when Dumond raped her, told ABC News in 2007 that she put her face inches from Huckabee's and said, "This is how close I was to Wayne Dumond, and I will never forget his face, and you will never forget mine. He's the one that raped me."
But Dumond, serving a life sentence for raping Stevens, was released in 1999 following reported public and private efforts by Huckabee on his behalf. Within a year of his release, he was accused of raping and murdering two more women. He was convicted of raping and murdering one of the women and returned to jail, where he died in 2005.
Prior to his imprisonment for rape, Dumond's record included a conviction for assault and his alleged involvement in a slaying and one other rape. Stevens, the victim in the 1985 rape for which he was convicted, was a distant relative of Bill Clinton's, and Dumond became a cause celebrity among some who thought he had been dealt with harshly because of the victim's relationship to then-Governor Clinton. Huckabee had originally indicated a desire to commute Dumond's sentence, but decided not to after unfavorable public response.
Documentation of Dumond's dangerousness -- including graphic, emotional letters from his alleged victims and their family members -- was in Huckabee's gubernatorial files at the time he was advocating Dumond's release. The news Web site Huffington Post obtained copies of two letters from women who said they were raped by Dumond that were allegedly sent to the governor's office.
After first denying the letters were genuine, a spokesperson for Huckabee now confirms at least one of these letters was received by his office.
In one, a woman tells of how Dumond raped her daughter, while her three-year-old grandchild looked on.
"I am also a rape victim of Dumond's," reads another heavily-underlined, bolded letter to Huckabee from the file. "Please reconsider your decision to release Dumond."
Huckabee even met with Ashley Stevens, whose rape had put Dumond behind bars in 1985.
Shortly afterward, in a 1996 closed-door session with the state parole board, Huckabee urged them to recommend Dumond be freed, according to the one member who voted against the release.