STATE BILL COLORADO
Outgoing Gov. Bill Ritter made headlines across the nation with his pardon of Joe Arridy, a low-IQ man convicted and executed for a Pueblo murder — a murder that the governor and others familiar with the case don’t think Arridy committed.
Here’s how news organizations covered the Arridy story and more than two dozen other pardons and commutations.
The Pueblo Chieftain: Gov. Bill Ritter granted a full and unconditional posthumous pardon Friday to Pueblo native Joe Arridy, who was convicted of killing a 15-year-old girl and was executed in 1939. Arridy, the son of illiterate Syrian immigrants, had spent 10 years at the Colorado Home for Mental Defectives in Grand Junction. He escaped with some other patients in 1936, and wandered around Northern Colorado and Wyoming.
State Bill Colorado: Joe Arridy’s execution became controversial as the subject of the book Deadly Innocence by Robert Perske. Perske is profiled here. Ritter said local attorney David A. Martinez brought the case to his attention.
9News: David Martinez didn’t count the hours. That wasn’t what the work was about. “It is about making a right out of a terrible wrong in our state’s history,” he said.
Associated Press: A mentally disabled man executed more than 70 years ago has been pardoned in Colorado.
Reuters: In pardoning Joe Arridy, Governor Bill Ritter called the case a “tragic conviction (based) on a false and coerced confession.”
The Denver Post: Among those who saw their sentences commuted were Jennifer Reali, who killed her then-boyfriend’s disabled wife in 1990, and Robert Willner, who fatally shot a man who was trying to repossess Willner’s truck on behalf of the lender. Ritter’s action could shave years off their prison time.
Colorado Springs Gazette: Jennifer Reali, who murdered her lover’s wife in an ambush killing outside a Colorado Springs community center in 1990, will have a shot at parole this year after Gov. Bill Ritter commuted her life sentence Friday. Reali, who otherwise would not have been eligible for parole until 2030, can apply for early release in June after serving 18 years of a life sentence for murdering Dianne Hood.
KOAA-TV: In 2010, News First 5 talked to Attorney General John Suthers about this case. He was the District Attorney who prosecuted the case. He told us Brian Hood was the, “mastermind behind the whole thing and I would not think it appropriate if he was out walking the streets while Jennifer Reali was still in prison.”
7News: Ritter gave clemency and commutations to seven people convicted of murder or homicide, four of those were juveniles at the time of their crimes.