"He said the case I want to talk to you about is Wayne Dumond, and this is a guy who may have grown up on the wrong side of the tracks and may have gotten a raw deal," said professor Charles Chastain of the University of Ark. at Little Rock's Criminal Justice Department. "Immediately the other board members who voted on that case decided, apparently, if the governor wants it, he gets it."
Huckabee described the meeting differently.
"At their invitation I went to their meeting, someone brought up his case," he said. "Frankly it was simply part of a broader discussion. I did not ask them to do anything."
Huckabee also told ABC News that it was "ludicrous" to think he could influence the parole board at the time because the members of the board were appointed by his Democratic predecessors, Jim Guy Tucker and Bill Clinton.
But Butch Reeves, formerly the criminal justice counsel to the Arkansas governor's office, who handled all requests for clemencies and communications with prisoners, gave an account of the meeting that largely supports former board member Chastain's version.
In a phone interview with ABC News, Reeves said Huckabee told the board members he thought there was "something nefarious" about the criminal justice system in Dumond's case, and that the rapist got a "raw deal." Huckabee said he believed Dumond's sentence, originally a life sentence plus 20 years, was "way out of bounds" for his crime, raping a 17-year-old high school student.
Reeves said he could recall only a few such appeals being made by a governor.
"The record clearly shows now Mike Huckabee did advocate for Wayne Dumond's release," said David J. Sanders, a political columnist for Stephens Media in Arkansas. "I think there are real questions about whether he has been forthright on this issue."
Huckabee was criticized during the 2008 presidential primaries for his clemency record. According to the Associated Press, Huckabee granted 1,033 clemencies during his 10 years in office. That figure is more than twice the total racked up by his three predecessors as governor in 17 years.
In 2007, Huckabee told ABC News that he believed that the media's attention to the Dumond story was a "complete exploitation."
The mother of Carol Sue Shields, the woman Dumond raped and killed in Missouri, told ABC News at the time that she would do "whatever it takes" to stop Huckabee from becoming president.
"I can't imagine anybody wanting somebody like that running the country," said Lois Davidson.
After the Lakewood shootings Sunday, Huckabee posted a statement on his Web site. If Clemmons is found to be responsible for the shooting, he wrote, "It will be the result of a series of failures in the criminal justice system."
Click here to read Huckabee's complete statement.
Huckabee is now the host of a talk show on Fox News and has downplayed his interest in running for president again in 2012, despite polls that show he remains popular among Republican voters.