After this new policy, Huckabee commuted the sentence of Stewart, despite what Jegley says were the prisoner's myriad disciplinary marks while in prison, and his refusal to accept any responsibility in Papadopolis' death, though he acknowledged his intent to rob him. Stewart had claimed Papadopolis, a drug dealer, had poisoned himself, though the cause of his death was ruled gunshot wounds. It was unclear how Stewart qualified for clemency under Huckabee's new policy.
"I used to be able to tell the families of victims, in all good faith and candor, that it was a rare event when a governor commuted a sentence and let a murderer back out, or a rapist back out or a child molester back out. But I can't do that anymore," Jegley said.
Jegley says he would get "calls from victim's families and jurors. They were just furious. They felt he had totally disrespected the system."
McCastlain shares many of those sentiments, albeit more politely, but she also had more success in her dealings with Huckabee. In 2004 McCastlain heard that Huckabee was considering commuting the sentence of former Air Force Sgt. Glen Green, who in 1974 confessed to kidnapping Helen Lynette Spencer at the Little Rock Air Force base, beating her with nunchucks, raping her in a secluded area, running over her with his car, stuffing her body into his trunk and dumping her body in a bayou. A witness tied him with the horrific crime and Green confessed.
The Rev. Johnny Jackson, a pastor at Bethel Baptist Church in Jacksonville, began advocating for Green's release, and when McCastlain heard she began to worry, given Huckabee's forgiving nature. "I was concerned," she said. "I could foresee that commutation might happen because it had happened before."
She prepared documentation to keep the brutal killer in prison. "The governor came from a religious background, so I tried to appeal to him in the way that I thought he looked at clemency," she said. She attacked the sincerity of Green's repentance.
It worked. Huckabee did not commute Green's sentence; he remains in prison.
"As a prosecutor," she said, Huckabee's plethora of pardons and commutations "was a concern for me. I respect a jury and a jury's findings and what they say is what I believe the sentence should be."